After weeks of speculation as to whether India and Bangladesh can go ahead with their scheduled T20 international game in Delhi, due to the dense smog engulfing the city, the day for the match has finally arrived. At the moment, the clouds hanging over the game are as heavy as the smog over the city.
Sunday is turning out to be especially bad as the quality of air continues to plummet in freefall. Schools are being closed and as many as 32 flights have been diverted away from the T3 airport in the National Capital.
What is even more scary is the fact that the Air Quality Index (AQI) has been soaring despite light drizzles in Delhi today. At certain regions of Delhi, it has gone beyond 999 mark which is unimaginably high.
According to news agency ANI, people within the BCCI are still not willing to call off the match despite the horrendous situation. "The match has not been called off yet. It is too early to decide as the match is at 7 pm," a source said.
Another news agency, IANS, quoted a source within Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) expressing a pessimistic view of the situation. "Contrary to the belief that showers on Saturday would have helped settle things down, today is the worst of the lot. The eyes are hurting and visibility is at an all-time low...But then again, you never know with the weather and things could change in the evening. But if you go by the current scenario, things are a little grim, to be honest," the source stated.
Many journalists have posted pictures of the stadium in the morning. The gloominess is very evident. The whole fiasco of India vs Sri Lanka Test match in December 2017 is being remembered. At that time, many people construed Sri Lanka's objections to playing under the smog as a cynical tactic for avoiding another pasting from India.
But this time, concerns have been raised from well before the game, and not only by the visitors but many Indian cricketers.
What does work in favour of the match is the fact that it will be played, if at all, in the evening. There is hope that by the time players take the field, the smog would clear up. Still, there is nothing to avoid the danger of Bangladesh team raising objections against playing in such conditions. The possibility of the newly-renamed Arun Jaitley Stadium failing to hold the first T20 of this series is quite strong.