Mumbai’s Tushar Deshpande, who took 51 wickets from 22 games across formats in the 2018-19 domestic season, was left troubled by the Delhi smog in a Ranji Trophy game.
“Delhi has turned into a gas chamber. It is very important that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through private & government schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh [5 million] masks today and I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed,” reads Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s latest tweet.
As the national capital prepares to embrace another winter full of smoggy blankets, an important question that has emerged is, how will India vs Bangladesh T20I match be played at the Arun Jaitley stadium amidst alarming pollution level?
Delhi’s air quality has dropped to the ’emergency’ category for the first time since January 2019; schools have been shut till November 5. But as per the BCCI, the game must go on due to challenges in changing the venue at the eleventh hour.
‘Playing in such polluted air wasn’t easy’ – Tushar Deshpande
In the wake of polarised reactions on why the BCCI chose to schedule a November game in Delhi, fast bowler Tushar Deshpande recalls his struggles with the capital’s smog in a Ranji Trophy match between Mumbai and Railways at the Karnail Singh Stadium last November.
Speaking to CricTracker, Tushar said, “It was the 28th of November last year when we landed in Delhi. The moment we reached I started feeling dizzy, head was spinning, had breathing difficulties. I could not go for practice the next day because I vomited and was advised to get myself checked at a hospital. When I went to the hospital I was given a nebulizer after which I felt better.
“I wore a mask on all the days of the game, and so did a few of my teammates. Playing in such polluted air wasn’t easy.”
Also joining in the conversation was Mumbai team’s physio Kishore Nakhale, who was with the players when they felt restless. Explaining the consequences of smog on the players, Nakhale said, “Smog causes restlessness among the players. There will also be complaints of vomiting. Two to three of our players had complained of a headache. Excessive smog can also lead to asthma and lung problems. Tushar and Siddhesh Lad had worn a mask during the entire course of the game. Basically, eye irritation, breathlessness, headache and vomiting are the main issues caused by toxic air.”
When Sri Lanka played a Test in Delhi in 2017, a number of their players complained of uneasiness and the game had to be stopped for close to 30 minutes. However, none of the Indian players came out wearing a mask. It was argued that the visitors felt uneasy because they came from a relatively greener and cleaner country.
But with some of the Indian domestic players too coming out to talk about the hazardous consequences of playing in polluted cities, it is up to the BCCI and their new President Sourav Ganguly to ensure that going forward, the players’ health is prioritized over the venue.
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