While residents of Delhi have been bearing the brunt of poor air quality in the city over the past few weeks, it was time for international cricketers to be on the receiving end on Saturday, December 3.
There was a delay of more than a 15 minutes during the post-lunch session on Day 2 of the ongoing third Test between India and Sri Lanka at the Feroz Shah Kotla after Sri Lankan players were seemingly uncomfortable playing in smoggy conditions.
Face masks to the rescue
Some of the visitng players, including captain Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Lakshan Sandakan, came out after Lunch wearing face masks.
On the other hand, Lahiru Gamage along with fellow pace-bowler Suranga Lakmal walked off the field unable to bowl as the air quality deteriorated.
The breaks seemed to affect Indian batsmen's concentration: R Ashwin threw his wicket away in the 123rd over, right after play resumed after the one of the many long delays. Captain Virat Kohli, who looked animated after the delay, was also dismissed on 243 amid all the drama.
Eventually, Sri Lanka ran out of players as both their pacers — Gamage and Lakmal — along with Sadeera Samarawickrama, who was declared unfit to take the field on Day 2, were unavailable.
Sri Lankan manager Asanka Gurusinha entered the field to discuss the situation with the umpires, and Indian head coach Ravi Shastri followed suit.
Kohli then decided to put a halt to the tense situation by declaring the Indian innings at 536 for 7.
Even as a tense situation was playing out on the field at the Kotla, netizens were busy giving their views on the episode.
While some slammed the Sri Lankan team saying they had deliberately caused the delays, others expressed concern about the alarming air quality in the national capital.
Here's how Sri Lankan cricket team was slammed on Twitter
hahahahaha.... India declare... Virat gesturing "we will bowl now"... this was an obvious call from him given the farce on display. Poor gamesmanship from Sri Lanka. Ridiculous. #IndvSL— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) December 3, 2017
Disgusted to see Dickwella and Sandakan laughing in jest as if some sort of plotting has worked. Ridiculous.— Subhabrata Majumdar (@Subhabrata01) December 3, 2017
Sri Lankan wickets:— Srini Mama ? (@SriniMama16) December 3, 2017
Sandakan - 3
Perera - 1
Gamage - 1
Pollution - 2
Fact that SL team laughed when India declared and SL batsmen not wearing mask shows that it has been a farce. Its a disgrace that average cricketers like this represent their country and bring shame to a cricket crazy nation like SL. #INDvSL— Sainath Murali (@sainath_murali) December 3, 2017
Here are a few Tweets that defended Sri Lankan cricketers' gesture
Heard Sehwag say 'Sri Lanka cricketers are hiding their face behind the mask because their performance and not due to pollution'. Well, some decency must be maintained during commentary I believe and Ranji Trophy matches have been affected by smog earlier #delhipollution #INDvSL— Paulami Chakraborty (@Polotwitts) December 3, 2017
I think @RusselArnold69 makes a valid point. The fast bowlers are more likely to be affected by poor air quality than anyone else.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 3, 2017
Sri Lankan players wearing masks sends out unedifying message about Delhi's pollution. State and central govts simply have to address this— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) December 3, 2017
Sections of the Delhi crowd showing its class with chants of ‘loser, loser’ for the Lankans. Needless. Cheap. #INDvSL— Jamie Alter (@jamie_alterTOI) December 3, 2017
Two fast bowlers have gone off the field because of the pollution. How have the officials deemed the conditions fit for play to continue?— Karthik Krishnaswamy (@the_kk) December 3, 2017
A Hindi commentator, can't recognise his voice, says something to the effect.. "air quality in Sri Lanka and European countries is better. Every nation has its drawback. In Delhi, air quality is bad this month. But they shouldn't make an issue out of it and adjust." #INDvSL— Mihir Vasavda (@mihirsv) December 3, 2017