New Delhi: Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe admitted that his team has no choice but to play against Sri Lanka in an air pollution-engulfed New Delhi for their Men’s ODI World Cup match on Monday, which he says is not ideal for anyone.
Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had cancelled their training sessions in the national capital on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon respectively as the AQI levels fell into the severe category, with heavy smog hovering in the city.
“We were a little bit concerned. That’s why we cancelled one practice session as well. We are trying to minimise our exposure to the outdoors as much as possible because we need to practice as well and we have to be careful about the long-term effect of this condition. Air quality is affecting both teams. It’s not ideal, but we have no choice. We have to play in the condition in front of us,” said Hathurusinghe in the pre-match press conference.
He also revealed that some Bangladesh players didn’t attend the practice session on Sunday as they are asthmatic and the team management did not want to risk their long-term health considering the poor air quality.
“Our doctor has kept a close eye on players. Some of the players didn’t turn up for practice as they were asthmatic so they stayed in indoors. Even for practice, we’re very conscious. We train what we have to train, and they go back into the dressing room. They don’t spend time unless they’re bowling or batting. So, we have taken some measures to minimize our exposure before the game.”
An ICC spokesperson told IANS on Saturday that they are assessing the situation in New Delhi ahead of Monday’s clash.
“The ICC and our hosts, the BCCI take the well-being of all participants seriously and are monitoring the air quality in Delhi. We are taking expert advice to assess the situation,” said the ICC spokesperson.
IANS also understands that air quality is assessed in the same way as other weather conditions by the match officials to decide whether it is fine and safe enough to play the game or not on the match day.
Many players from the Sri Lankan team have already experienced playing cricket in the polluted air of New Delhi when they played a Test match against India at this venue in December 2017.
That time saw five players fielding with masks on, with several of them receiving medical attention for respiratory problems and vomiting in the dressing room.
This week the Men’s ODI World Cup has seen smog and air pollution in New Delhi and Mumbai become a huge talking point. The BCCI previously said no fireworks displays will be held for the remaining matches in Mumbai and Delhi because of air pollution.
Coming to the game, Bangladesh have won just one out of seven matches and are already out of the race for the semifinals. Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup winners, have two wins but are dependent on slim mathematical calculations to reach the semi-finals.
“Pitch and the ground look immaculate. I think one of the best pitches that we’re probably going to play this World Cup. As you said, Sri Lanka has and Bangladesh have played really good matches in the recent past.”
“The thing is, both teams in a really similar situation, to be honest, are trying to finish as high as possible because we have lost the opportunity to get into the semi-final now,” concluded Hathurusinghe.