Bowlers And 3/4th Team Skip "optional" Training Due To Pollution
When there is no option you got to stay mum and play quietly, but when you get an "option" you avail it and stay back at the hotel. Indian cricket team, including its T20 stand-in-captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Ravi Shastri, have maintained a stoic silence or have avoided the controversy surrounding playing the first T20 match against Bangladesh despite "severe pollution" in Delhi. So "no option" means playing the match on Sunday evening and training under hazardous conditions with the entire team choosing not to wear a mask on Friday during the training sessions. Why? Because there was "no option" as the BCCI did not want any bad publicity of Indian Cricket.
Three-fourth of team skips optional training
But the moment the team got an "option" they opted for it without any hesitation. The option they got was to skip the "optional" training session. Normally more than half of the Indian team attend the optional training session but this time it was below one fourth. None of the bowlers (who were more vulnerable to smog & pollution) turned up for practice on Saturday afternoon and more than 3/4th of the team chose to stay back in the team hotel. Sources in Team India said that the team management did not want the bowlers to get exposed to smog and air pollutants as "they were more vulnerable than the batsmen."
Stand-in-captain for the T20 series Rohit Sharma did not pay much attention to pollution - neither in the press conference nor in the net session. Only four top-order or opening batsmen (Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, and Sanju Samson) were seen practicing nearly two hours. Earlier, the entire Bangladeshi players chose to wear masks while practicing at Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi despite the fact that its capital Dhaka is no less a polluted city. Ironically, BCCI did not want the matter to go out of control or "blown out of proportion" and so probably a message was sent to the team management not to exaggerate anything that will become a bad advertisement for Cricket in India, a charge strongly denied by the BCCI.
"Delhi is the national capital and among the top three cricket playing cities of the nation. Any bad advertisement of DDCA and Delhi will send a wrong signal to the world and bad advertisement for BCCI & India," the sources told Republic TV on condition of anonymity.
The indication of no one would be wearing the masks was quite clear from the carefully chosen words of Indian batting coach Vikram Rathour during the press conference clearly undermining and underplaying Smog and pollution in Delhi when he said Smog was a distraction and those who have nothing else to do in life notice it. Rohit Sharma, captain for team India's T20 series against Bangladesh, on Thursday had said he would assess the pollution situation in Delhi closely ahead of the T20 match on Sunday. "I’ve just landed in Delhi, I haven’t had the time to asses the situation and as far as we know the match is scheduled for November 3rd and today is 30th. So have time to assess the situation," Rohit said. On being asked again whether he & team India would also wear similar masks, he said a decision will be taken only after assessing the ground situation.