The third Test match between India and Sri Lanka at New Delhi’s Ferozshah Kotla ended in a draw but made news for all the wrong reasons. Cricket enthusiasts across the world saw Sri Lankan players wear masks and step out to field, raising a serious question on the playing conditions in the capital. Taking into consideration the high pollution levels in Delhi and NCR and the ease with which Indian players performed in the unbreathable air, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has made it mandatory for the touring teams to carry masks in their kits.
The frenzy only got stronger every time the Sri Lankan players sported masks to protect themselves from the polluted air. Reports also suggest that the players wore masks to hide their faces, in case they lose the match. An Indian commentator, who was on air when the players walked out wearing masks, called it a “tactical move” by the players to divert attention from the possible defeat, as he claimed that the air was “not hazardous”.
Soon after the commentator despised the Sri Lankan players for wearing masks, he was seen coughing severely and had to be taken off air.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) held a press brief warning the BCCI to stop trying to kill the Sri Lankan players. “In 2009, they prepared a ‘dangerous’ pitch at Kotla to injure our batsmen. Now, they scheduled a match at the same venue when the city had unbreathable air. Sometimes, we still feel that the terrorists who attacked our bus near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore are running BCCI and trying to achieve the unaccomplished,” said a spokesperson of the SLC.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli has reportedly flown to Italy to breathe fresh air following the series.