Despite growing demands that the first T20I between India and Bangladesh be moved out of Delhi due to the deteriorating air quality, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed that the Arun Jaitley Stadium will indeed host the series opener as planned on Sunday. ANI reported Ganguly replied: “Yes, it will” when asked whether the capital will host the fixture.
Not for the first time, the quality of air in Delhi has not only dipped but become progressively worse, to an extent that it now falls under “severe” category, leading to many environmentalists and former cricketers urging the board to move the game out of the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Gambhir expressed his concerns regarding Delhi’s depleting Air Quality Index (AQI) ahead of the first T20I on Sunday. Despite the pollution level in the national capital, the match is set to go ahead as per schedule.
“It is a far serious issue than having a game of cricket or any other sports matches happens in Delhi. For us I think people living in Delhi should be more concerned about the pollution levels rather than the cricket match that happens,” Gambhir had told ANI on Wednesday. “Not only athletes it’s also for the common man of Delhi as well. A match is a very small thing, I think we can say ok whether we want to shift the match or not.”
In 2017, during a Test match in Delhi, Sri Lanka’s players were left gasping for breath, forcing most of them to wear protective masks even as some of them even fell ill. The two environmentalists were Jyoti Pande of Care for Air and Ravina Raj Kohli of My Right to Breathe, who, in a letter addressed to the BCCI, had urged the board to assign a new venue for the T20I as it runs the risk of the spectators’ health.
“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,” the letter had said. “Thousands of innocent spectators at the venue will also be putting themselves at risk in order to watch the match in the prevailing situation.”