Even for those of us who have been complaining about the BCCI scheduling cricket matches with no context, the third India v Sri Lanka test match in Delhi will stick in the memory. Originally we thought it would be for Virat Kohl’s first triple century. But we were wrong. This test match will be remembered for #DelhiPollution and #PollutionStopsPlay (hashtags in their own right).
It will be remembered for the Sri Lankan players throwing up on the outfield.
For Sri Lankan players wearing surgical masks.
For Kohli’s angry declaration. (He pointed at his chest and said we will bowl, the implication being we will show you how to do it, you cry babies). Can you blame him? He is a proud Delhi boy and the masked Lankans had made his city look bad.At the time, it was thought that this was all gamesmanship on the part of the Sri Lankans. It seemed that the street-smart Lankans had devised a plan to get off the field which didn’t involve bowling India out.
Being Delhi boys ourselves, we raged, we tweeted, we trolled.
And we found this article by Wisden from last year. Delhi had previously seen a Gujarat-Bengal Ranji Trophy match in November abandoned half-way due to pollution. Please have a read when you have a second.
This is not just an issue for cricket. The levels of air in Delhi are undeniably toxic. Hopefully the public stage on which this has played out will make the powers-that-be sit up and take note finally.
It might mean no winter tests in Delhi for a while but the image of the masked Sri Lankans beamed live around the world may have just done the people of Delhi the biggest favour.
Lastly, if the Lankans had a real problem with the air quality and were not faking it just to get out of a sticky situation, why didn’t they just forfeit the game and move on?
The answer, sadly, is money. A poor board cannot afford to antagonise the BCCI. Remember what happened after the West Indies abandoned their tour to India a few years ago?
Both sets of players will continue to pay the price for Delhi’s pollution on the last day of the third test tomorrow.