Delhi smog provides a touch of drama to third Test

Delhi smog provides a touch of drama to third Test

Bizarre scenes unfolded after lunch on the second day of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka. The tourists took the field wearing masks in the post lunch session and what followed was several interruptions, ill-will between the two teams, irate crowd and a hasty declaration by miffed India captain Virat Kohli.

It is believed the major pollutant concentration -- PM 2.5 or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers across Delhi-NCR at 9.00 a.m. was 218 units -- eight times more than the safe limit. Sri Lankan players, who played the morning session without frills, wore masks after the lunch break.

Three overs into the session and Sri Lankan seamer Lahiru Gamage was bending down, holding his knees in the middle of the over. As he received medical attention, it led to intense discussion between Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal and umpires Nigel Llong and Joel Wilson. Kohli, who was batting at 240, too joined the discussion even as the umpires consulted with match referee David Boon.

After a stoppage of 17 minutes, Gamage resumed bowling and immediately removed Ashwin. An over after, he again complained of discomfort and this time walked off the field. Fifteen minutes later, Suranga Lakmal caused a stir when he walked off the field without finishing his over. It led to another stoppage before Dilruwan Perera completed the over. Following this, the two umpires got locked in a discussion with the Sri Lanka manager Asanka Gurusinha and Chandimal. In no time, India head coach Ravi Shastri too walked in and held a brief but animated chat with the two umpires.

Play, however, resumed again  but it wasn't long before  the action halted again. In the 128th over, bowled by Lakshan Sandakan, Wriddhiman Saha cut him for a four and  Chandimal was reminded by his team-mate on the fence that only 10 fielders were on the field. Even as the Lankan skipper and interim coach Nic Pothas were trying to convince the umpires that they were running out of fielders (Sadeera Samarwickrama was also injured on the second day after being struck by an M Vijay shot while at short leg), their support staff members stood ready in white flannels to take the field in case the umpires refused to stop the play.          

Kohli, who fell for 245 during this period, had had enough of this drama by that time and declared the innings soon. His message was clear. They were fine bowling in these conditions. As the players walked back to the dressing, the crowd added to the  unusual episode by booing the Sri Lankan team.

A Ranji Trophy match between Gujarat and Bengal had been called off last year on account of air pollution and last month schools too were shut for a week for the same reason.

Concerns regarding smog surfaced during the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon as well before it was a given a go ahead by the Delhi High Court.

 

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