In what is being termed as a national embarrassment, Sri Lankan players wore anti-pollution masks on the field during the second day of the ongoing third Test against India in New Delhi due to deteriorating air quality in the national capital.
The visitors held up play, complaining of uneasiness due to the condition of air during the post-lunch session on Sunday, December 3.
Chaotic scenes at Kotla
There were chaotic scenes as a couple of Sri Lankan fast bowlers walked off the field while quite a few of the mask-clad islanders, including captain Dinesh Chandimal and senior batsman Angelo Mathews, were unwilling to continue playing.
After a series of delays of more than 15 minutes, play resumed but it seemed the Indian batsmen were affected by the on-field drama. R Ashwin fell immediately after the resumption, while Virat Kohli, who was looking set for his maiden triple ton, was dismissed for 243, much to the disappointment of the Kotla crowd.
What Shastri told the umpires
There was more delay as Sri Lanka ran out of fit cricketers to take the field. While the situation remained unclear, the visitors' manager Asanka Gurusinha and India's head coach Ravi Shastri walked onto the field to have a discussion with the on-field umpires.
It was an unprecedented event as members of the team management stay away from such issues. However, Shastri rushed towards the umpires and had an animated conversation with them.
After Sri Lankan manager Asanka Gurusinha, Ravi Shastri entered the field to have a discussion with umpires over frequent delays due to #DelhiSmog https://t.co/WTe3lsYHNC#INDvSL #Cricket #SriLanka (Photo credit: @hotstartweets) pic.twitter.com/FEs0A757TX— IBT India Sports (@IBT_Sports) December 3, 2017
The Indian head coach told the umpires that it was unnecessary to stop the game and asked them to continue with the game, according to bowling coach Bharat Arun, who addressed a press conference after the action-packed second day in New Delhi.
"Ravi's take was pretty simple. He said 'please get on with the game, you don't need to stop. You take a decision and just get on with the game'," Arun said on Sunday.
'Team India not worried about pollution'
On the flipside, the air pollution, which has been a much-talked about issue over the last few weeks in the national capital, worsened on Sunday, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The Tamil Nadu tactician also argued against Sri Lankan players' act, saying captain Kohli, who had batted for two straight days, was not in need of a pollution-control mask. He added that the Indian team was not too worried about the pollution in the capital city.
"Virat batted close to two days. He did not need a mask. We are focused on what we need to do. The conditions are the same for both teams and we are not too bothered about it," Arun said.
He added: "I think pollution is everywhere in our country. These pollution levels are serious in our country. I don't think we were too worried about pollution. The BCCI scheduled this matches and our job is to get the best out of our team. The focus is more on that."
Eventually, Kohli was forced to declare India's innings on 536 for 7 after which the pacers from the home side struck early to put Sri Lanka in trouble. However, an unbeaten 56 run-stand between captain Chandimal and Matthews and poor slip-catching from Kohli and co. helped the visitors end Day 2 on 131 for 3.