Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly suggested that venues in northern India may not be hosting matches after Diwali in the future.
The opening Twenty20 International against Bangladesh, Ganguly said, will go on as per schedule in New Delhi. Paddy burning in Haryana and Punjab, combined with the smoke emitted after fireworks during Diwali severely impact the air quality in the National Capital Region every year.
“It’s too late to do anything, because a lot of preparations go into matches like tickets, crowds... everything. So, it’s not possible to cancel things at the last minute,” Ganguly was quoted as saying by PTI.
Bangladesh batsman Liton Das was seen wearing a mask during their first practice session ahead of the Sunday’s match, but he later claimed it was not because of air pollution. Back in December 2017, the Sri Lankan cricket team was left gasping for breath during a Test match at the Feroz Shah Kotla, forcing most of their players to wear protective masks as some even fell ill.
The newly-elected BCCI boss said in future they would be more “practical” going forward.
“I think we will do that [consultation]. In future, when we schedule, especially in the northern part of India during the winter, we will have to be a little bit more practical.
“But we have spoken to the Delhi authorities in the last two days. They’re expecting the match to go through. The match was already scheduled so we couldn’t cancel it at the last minute because we came in on October 23.”
“I know post-Diwali it’s a bit tough in the north. I hope everything goes fine. I spoke to the groundsmen and they said once the sun comes out, it’ll be fine. He was my groundsman during Delhi Capitals days. I know him well so he said everything will be fine. We want the game to happen.”
The Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, is hoping that air quality which is in the ‘severe’ zone, will improve by Friday but it is expected to be on the lower the side of the ‘very poor category’ at least till Saturday.