Delhi smog forces cancellation of Ranji Trophy matches

Though the sun came out on the opening day, it failed to penetrate the dense layers of smog and the players complained of burning eyes © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Rising levels of pollution and smog have forced the cancellation of two Ranji Trophy fixtures in New Delhi. The BCCI is now working towards rescheduling the Group A clash between joint table-toppers Gujarat and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla, and the Group C fixture between Hyderabad and Tripura at the Karnail Singh Stadium.

In a rare occurrence, not a single ball was bowled in either game as play was called off on the second afternoon after there was no improvement in the air quality. ESPNcricinfo understands that points will not be split just yet.

“The teams were informed around 3.15 in the afternoon that the match was called off,” Sairaj Bahutule, the Bengal coach, told ESPNcricinfo. “Our eyes were burning. Some of the guys had headaches. Pollution was at the highest level. This is the first time in my cricketing life I have come across such a scenario. We have not got any directives from the BCCI whether teams will share points or the match might be rescheduled.”

At the Karnail Singh Stadium, Hyderabad and Tripura had a meeting at 11.30am, along with the match officials, and upon further inspection, the game was called off. “We could not even stand outside as our eyes started burning. It was impossible to run in or do anything,” Bharat Arun, the Hyderabad coach, said.

The players had complained of burning eyes on the opening day as well. Although the sun came out, it failed to penetrate the thick layer of smog that has enveloped the national capital, resulting in poor visibility. The smog is believed to be an after-effect of Diwali fireworks, as well as the burning of paddy stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

“Yesterday, in the afternoon, when light improved, we went out to toss. But the dust and pollution was so bad that our eyes started to water,” Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary told ESPNcricinfo. “In consultation with both captains, it was decided that we’ll call off play. But today, when the same situation persisted, the match referees decided it was unsafe to even attempt to play. It was called off a little after 3pm. We’ve played a lot of cricket in the north, especially Delhi, in winter months in the past. But I haven’t seen anything like this.”

Bengal played their opening match in the second round of matches, against Uttar Pradesh, and took first-innings points. They followed it up with outright wins against Punjab and Railways. “The board is working towards rescheduling the game, although I’m not sure how that will be feasible at this stage,” Tiwary said. “We played our first game only in the second round, so it’s now a challenge to fit the game in. But we’ve been told this won’t count as a match, neither will points be split.”

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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