The smog cover in the capital on Saturday caused cancellation of the first day’s play in two Ranji Trophy games here with players complaining of irritation in eyes and breathing problems.
The matches cancelled were group A league encounter between Bengal and Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla and group C match at Karnail Singh Stadium between Tripura and Hyderabad.
While poor light has been a reason for play being called off, it’s a rarity that players from both teams complaint of burning eyes and breathing problem even when the light had considerably improved for an hour in the afternoon.
The post-Diwali smog, leading to low visibility and poor air quality, led to multiple inspections but health of the players was paramount for the match officials. At Kotla, both Manoj Tiwary and Parthiv Patel went out for toss but match referee P Ranganathan along with umpires Virender Sharma and Krishnamachari Bharathan decided against it. At 4 pm, umpires officially called off after multiple inspections.
Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule said: “The players were complaining that they were having burning sensation in their eyes. It’s bad out there.”
In fact Bengal bowling coach Ranadeb Bose was wearing a mask due to toxic air. One of the DDCA officials said, “The players also complained of breathing problems. If you stay out there for an hour, the air that you inhale will cause irreparable damage to the lungs.”
The situation in Delhi is so bad that there is prediction of smog continuing and little cricket being played.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary said the players felt that they could not play amid such dense smog even before the start of the game.
“This is the first time something like this has happened in my career. You can’t blame anyone.There is so much burning sensation in the eyes. After toss, umpires asked both me and Parthiv and we decided that we can’t play. We have to take care of our health also. This is something unheard of. But we are all responsible because when we burst crackers we really do not think about environmental pollution,” said Tiwary.
Match Referee P Ranganathan added: “This is something no one can do anything about. We have informed BCCI about the situation.