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SRI LANKA’S Suranga Lakmal (L) walks off the field after he vomited during the fourth day of the third Test against India.—AP
SRI LANKA’S Suranga Lakmal (L) walks off the field after he vomited during the fourth day of the third Test against India.—AP

FOLLOWING the second day’s play of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka in Delhi, CK Khanna, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President made a bizarre statement that the Sri Lankan players were ‘making a fuss’ about the playing conditions.

He even vowed to ask his secretary to write a letter to Sri Lanka Cricket.

The Sri Lankan players, earlier that day, were seeing wearing masks while they were fielding. So bad was the situation that the game had to be stopped at regular intervals following the complaints about air pollution made by the fielders to the on-field umpires — Nigel Llong and Joel Wilson.

According to Nic Pothas, the head coach of Sri Lanka cricket team, the players were vomiting off-the-field and had to use the oxygen tanks in the dressing room. The team management was concerned about the health of its players. At one point, Sri Lanka even ran out of options to field a team of eleven ‘fit’ players. Virat Kohli, who batted brilliantly, was seen getting frustrated because of the intervals in the game. He even declared the innings earlier than he would have liked to save some time and have a go, with the ball, at Sri Lanka.

Delhi’s problems with smog are not hidden from anyone. According to a report published in The Hindu earlier this year, eight people die every day due to air pollution in the capital of India. Which begs the question: was it wise on the BCCI’s part to schedule a match in Delhi despite knowing fully that the conditions might not be suitable for play?

The situation was further exacerbated by the BCCI President who blamed the Sri Lankan players afterwards for making a mountain out of a molehill just because 20,000 people in the stands and Indian team didn’t have any complaints with the conditions. Is it not the right of Sri Lankan players to complain if they feel sick while playing? And where is the ICC — the chief regulator of cricket — that is otherwise ‘very active’ when it comes to such ‘trivial’ issues?

The BCCI is literally bullying SLC and its players. The ideal thing to do would be to intervene and put an end to this matter. But as usual when it comes to dealing with the BCCI, even the ICC can’t do anything.

Perhaps, the BCCI could learn a thing or two from its Pakistani counterpart — Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which is often criticised for its mismanagement. The recently concluded National T20 Cup was initially supposed to be played in Multan; however, the venue was changed twice before it was finally decided that the tournament will be played in Rawalpindi due to smog in Faisalabad.

The BCCI, too, could have avoided this whole drama had they scheduled the game in any other city where conditions aren’t as bad as they are in Delhi at the moment.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2017