For the first time, an international cricket match was disturbed by the Delhi smog when India vs Sri Lanka Test match had to be stopped for 26 minutes. This was the second day of the third test between the two teams taking place at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. Reportedly, after the lunch break, many Sri Lankan players were seen wearing face masks owing to the smog in the air.
This was the first incident in the 140-years long history of Indian cricket that a team was playing while wearing face masks. Throughout the match, the game was stopped 3 times for 26 minutes. The game was continually disturbed by Delhi smog for 17 minutes in the 123rd over and for 5 and 3 minutes in the 127th and 128th overs respectively.
Image Source: Hindustan Times
Sri Lankan players complained about the bad air quality and reported that found it difficult to play. Some experienced breathlessness while some were even vomiting. At one point in the match, the Sri Lanka team didn’t have enough fielders to field and they got a member of their sports staff to the field.
However, no player from the Indian team chose to wear masks as apparently, they were not having any difficulty while playing. This entire disturbance affected the game and the Indian team’s focus. India lost 2 important wickets due to the constant interruption and stoppage of the game. Later, Indian team captain Virat Kohli had to declare the innings at 536-7.
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Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said that it was a “unique case” and that it was important to stop the game considering the health of the players. While some blamed it as an excuse on Sri Lanka’s part, environmental expert Sirajuddin Ahmed revealed that the pollution level was five times higher than the normal level.