Delhi air not ideal, but we have to play: Bangladesh coach

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) read an alarming 460 on Sunday!

Asthmatic Bangladesh cricketers remained indoors ahead of their World Cup clash against Sri Lanka, with coach Chandika Hathurusinghe citing the air quality in smog-shrouded New Delhi on Sunday.

Both teams had already cancelled one practice session in the build up to Monday’s match between eliminated Bangladesh and seventh-placed Sri Lanka, who have only the slimmest of chances of reaching the last four.

While the sun did peep out around noon on Sunday, the filthy air has prompted the Delhi government to extend the closure of primary schools until November 10, while online learning has been suggested for other classes.

Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) read an alarming 460 on Sunday and Hathurusinghe said they were trying to minimise exposing their players to such conditions ahead of the match.

An AQI of 0-50 is considered good while anything between 400-500 affects healthy people and is considered a danger to those with existing diseases.

“Our doctor is keeping a close eye on the players,” the Sri Lankan told reporters at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

“Some of the players didn’t turn up for practice as they are asthmatic, so they stayed indoors.

“Even for practice, we’re very conscious. We train what we have to train, and then go back into the dressing room. They don’t spend time outdoor unless they’re bowling or batting.”

The Indian cricket board has banned use of fireworks in post-match celebration and would hope Monday’s match, last in Delhi, gets over without any drama.

The governing International Cricket Council said it was monitoring the situation in New Delhi.

“It’s not ideal, but we have no choice. We have to play in the condition in front of us,” Hathurusinghe said.

Fast bowlers will find it particularly difficult to produce their best in such conditions but Hathurusinghe denied it would influence Bangladesh’s team combination.

“Team selection won’t depend on air quality. It depends on the condition and the opposition and our strength,” he said.

Asked if he thought Delhi was fit to host cricket matches at this time of the year, the coach evaded a direct answer by saying he was not “a qualified person” to give a verdict.

Instead, he shifted his focus to the task at hand for Bangladesh, who must finish among the top eight to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan. They are currently ninth in the points table.

“Still the Champions Trophy (spot) is up for grabs, so we need to finish as high as possible.”

  • World Cup 2023

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