India were almost forced to declare their innings in bizarre circumstances as Sri Lanka ran out of players healthy enough to field in the polluted Delhi air on day two of the Test.
In the post-lunch session, at least five of their fielders came out wearing masks. At 12.32pm, fast bowler Lahiru Gamage expressed concerns to his team, the physio walked out and looked after him, which caused a 17-minute delay. One more stoppage later, the other fast bowler Suranga Lakmal just walked off, leaving only 10 Sri Lanka players on the field. At 1.28pm, Virat Kohli, the India captain who fell for 245 during this stop-start period, called his unbeaten batsmen back in, seemingly suggesting they were okay to field in these conditions.
Pollution in Delhi has been a major health concern in the recent winters. In November this year, the government had declared a public health emergency, schools were shut for a week, and the Delhi half marathon almost didn’t go ahead. Back then, the air quality in Delhi had almost reached severe levels. Air quality in some parts of Delhi was reported to be hazardous on Sunday, and very healthy in the ITO area adjoining Feroz Shah Kotla.
During the interruptions, the match referee David Boon was seen talking to a doctor, who had a stethoscope around his neck, presumably for advice on how big a health hazard the current pollution was. Animated discussions between India players and the match officials took place during the interruptions. At one point, coach Ravi Shastri walked out to the middle. Nic Pothas, the Sri Lanka coach, was also seen talking to the umpires.
A Ranji match between Bengal and Gujarat was called off last year because of heavy smog, but the air quality was much worse at that point.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo