First T20I to go on as per schedule despite ‘very poor’ air quality in Delhi

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Mumbai: The first T20I between India and Bangladesh at New Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on November 3 (Sunday) will take place as per schedule despite growing concerns about Delhi’s degrading air quality post Diwali. The talks of the series opener being shifted from New Delhi to a different venue keeping the air pollution in mind started doing the rounds after the capital’s Air Quality Index (AQI) hovered between severe and very poor range for the last three days.

Matters escalated after noted environmentalists submitted a letter to newly elected BCCI president Sourav Ganguly requesting him to shift the first T20I at a different city.

“In the light of extreme pollution in Delhi, we would like to request you to consider shifting the venue for the first T20 outside of Delhi. Making our cricketers play a physically demanding sport for 3-4 hours in Delhi’s toxic air will end up doing more damage to our cricket team’s health in the long run,” Jyoti Pande of Care For Air and Ravina Raj Kohli of My Right To Breathe said in the letter.

Speculations, however, were put to rest on Wednesday evening as DDCA officials confirmed that there was no question of moving Sunday’s fixture out of Delhi and it will go on as per schedule. “Yes we heard about the letter but there has been no such communication from BCCI’s end. In fact, we have been told to carry on with preparations for Sunday’s match. The broadcasters are set to arrive tomorrow (Thursday),” a DDCA official told Hindustan Times.

Around 7 pm on Wednesday, which is the exact time when the match will kick start on Sunday, the AQI of ITO around a kilometre away from the Feroz Shah Kotla ground – stood at 368, which comes under very poor category.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor”, and 401-500 “severe”. Above 500 is “severe-plus emergency” category.

Under the very poor category if a person undertakes strenuous physical activity then he can suffer severe respiratory problems, which was the case during the India-Sri Lanka Test match in 2017 at this very ground when the visiting side did not even have 11 players at one point of time. A number of Sri Lankan players fell ill due to the severe conditions.

DDCA, however, asserts the scenario is not as bad this time around. “The air quality generally deteriorates here at this time, it is a known fact but I don’t think that will cause problems to the players this time,” the official added.

Ticket sale surges

Meanwhile, the sale of tickets saw a rapid growth on Wednesday. The online ticket sale which started on Monday picked up pace on Wednesday and the authorities are confident the numbers will only rise in coming two days, prior to the match.

“The first two days were not that good but today it (ticket sale) really picked up pace. The Rs 750 tickets are already sold out and the 1000 and 1250 are also going the same way,” said a DDCA official.

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