‘Very Unhealthy’, but Delhi throngs the stadium for T20I

The Tribune

The Tribune

Author 2019-11-04 10:31:00

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Vinayak Padmadeo

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3

The Air Quality Index (AQI) was still at 276, which falls under the ‘Very Unhealthy’ category, when the Indian openers strode out to the middle in the first T20I today. This was a relief for the fans, some of them wearing masks, who thronged the stadium at the Ferozeshah Kotla to witness a new-look Team India take on Bangladesh.

The match almost didn’t happen as the AQI reading in the vicinity had shot over 900, near the National Stadium area, around noon today. For the record, an AQI reading over 300 is considered to be hazardous.

This spike in pollution today forced the Delhi Government to issue a health advisory. In this advisory, issued by the director general of health services, the government asked people to avoid outdoors as much as possible.

The advisory said: “The air pollution harms and may cause respiratory illness in healthy people on prolonged exposure and even pronounced respiratory or other serious illnesses in vulnerable population even on short exposure. Therefore the general public is advised to avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during the morning and late evening hours.”

This warning did not deter the cricket fans from taking a health risk — with children in tow — to fill up the stadium. With an estimated 25,000 spectators in, the stadium was mostly packed, except the corporate boxes to the left of the pavilion. The large number of school children in the stadium made a mockery of the state government’s decision to shut all schools until November 5.

‘BCB, Madugalle nervous’

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan Papon was worried about the health of his players before the start of the match. He was spoken to by top Indian cricket board (BCCI) officials and asked not to press the panic button.

Also, match referee Ranjan Madugalle was also averse to holding the match under such severe conditions, according to sources. Madugalle had the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) officials in a tizzy due to the concerns he expressed. He conducted drills and checked the AQI and also took out the light metre to check the visibility for the benefit of the players.

It was only after a final inspection at 6:15pm that he gave his all-clear for the match. It helped that by the evening, the AQI reading had, much to the relief of BCCI and DDCA officials., improved — from the “Hazardous” to “Very Unhealthy” category.

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