The much-anticipated T20 contest between India and Bangladesh on Sunday has another opponent lurking around at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. It's the Delhi smog.
As the capital of India and its neighbouring areas breached the 999 mark on the Air Quality Index (AQI) scale, the residents of Delhi-NCR are literally gasping for air.
With schools shut, the Supreme Court of India declaring Delhi's toxic air a public health emergency and the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling the city a "gas chamber", it's safe to say things aren't looking pretty for Delhi. In fact, the top three trending hashtags on Indian Twitter on a lazy Sunday were rather serious: #DelhiAirEmergency, #DelhiPollution, and #DelhiBachao.
Amidst the conversation about public health and safety progressed through the day, worrying and unflattering photos from the first T20 match venue -- Arun Jaitley Stadium (previously Feroz Shah Kotla) -- between India and the tourists Bangladesh hit social media, leaving fans severely concerned.
Delhi: Latest visuals from outside Arun Jaitley Stadium. India will play Bangladesh in the first T20i match, later today. pic.twitter.com/KehNVZ1Zd1— ANI (@ANI) November 3, 2019
That there is still a match scheduled despite the hazardous conditions in Delhi left fans baffled. In a cricket-loving country that witnesses packed stadiums, the attendees, along with the cricket teams, too were at risk of being exposed to toxic pollutants in the capital city.
Flights diverted from delhi due to pollution and our cricket board still decides to host the T 20match in delhi- not caring about health of Delhiites who will be coming to witness the match- totally wrong-money is not everything @ArvindKejriwal @rjginnie— Mukeshhkrips (@Mukeshhkrips1) November 3, 2019
Goodluck to the 40000+ people going to Feroz Shah Kotla tonight. Prayers. ⚰️— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) November 3, 2019
Wishing all the best to players of both the teams today in Kotla...I wish thr r no pollution ill effects on you all and all the fans in the stadium...tho i wished that match was shifted frm this venue...— Samip Rajguru (@samiprajguru) November 3, 2019
Maybe a cricket match being cancelled will make people care about the pollution in Delhi!!!! https://t.co/bktP0IH5x2— AB (@Abhisingh183) November 3, 2019
Others simply called for abandoning of the match.
They will be playing a T20 international match at Ferozeshah Kotla today. Hope they cancel it due to low visibility if not for poisonous air.— Ankur Bhardwaj (@Bhayankur) November 3, 2019
The light showers on Saturday added to the woes of Delhi as the smog turned from bad to worse and now the District Cricket Association (DDCA) and groundsmen are hoping for the thick blanket to subside just in time for the match.
"Contrary to the belief that showers on Saturday would have helped settle things down, today is the worst of the lot. The eyes are hurting and visibility is at an all-time low," a senior DDCA official told IANS.
The official also said that they were hopeless in situations such as these and prayed that the match took place as scheduled at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.