For the longest time, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) didn’t even have a term for it. So unprecedented is the Capital’s current situation with smog and pollution that two Ranji Trophy games were called off here on Saturday and filed under the ‘washed-out’ category. No play was possible on the first day of play at the Gujarat-Bengal game at the Ferozeshah Kotla and the Hyderabad Tripura tie at the Karnail Singh stadium The reason cited was ‘poor visibility’, but with the forecast remaining the same for the coming days, don’t expect the status on the website to change.
The visiting players, who complained of burning sensation in the eyes and breathlessness while they were out on the field, are holed up in their hotel rooms with filter masks and air purifiers. At the Kotla, a 9.30 am scheduled start was put back by a couple of hours because one couldn’t see the middle. A 11.30 am, rival skippers Manoj Tiwary and Parthiv Patel stepped out for the toss even as the sun peeped through momentarily. The two returned without spinning the coin.
“The umpires asked us if we were ready to play. The light looked fine from outside the boundary for a while but in the centre it was very difficult. Parthiv and me mutually decided to not have the toss,” Tiwary said before leaving the ground. Although play was official called off only at 4 pm, the toss was put off by match officials after consulting the two skippers.
“This is unheard of. To call off a day’s play due to pollution is very strange. We did our routine warm-ups in the morning. It is then when we realized that it was going to be very difficult to play out there,” added Tiwari, “We then asked our team management to arrange for these masks. It is very unhealthy here.”
The scenes early in the morning reminded you of a typical Delhi winter morning with fog and low visibility. But to see it in early November is unusual. The Bengal players had surgical masks on to battle the toxic air, while the Gujarat players, including Jasprit Bumrah, exited the gym with their faces covered with towels. “The players were complaining that they were having burning sensation in their eyes. It was bad out there,” Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule said.
The toss was called off in the Tripura-Hyderabad game too. “The eyes were burning and the players were suffering from breathlessness. If the forecast is same for the next four days, it’s going to be very tough here,” Hyderabad coach Bharat Arun told TOI.