New Delhi, December 5
Around half an hour before the end of the day’s play, Mohammed Shami bowled a real snorter to dismiss Sri Lankan opener Sadeera Samarawickrama. The Indian team had barely finished celebrating when Shami hunkered down and started vomiting. Apparently, the air pollution had got to him as well.
At the end of the day’s play yesterday, while admitting that pollution was an issue, Shami had said that it wasn’t as severe as the Sri Lankans were making it to be, and maybe the Indians were used to it. His observation, though lacking any sympathy for the Lankans, was relatively the least uncharitable coming from the Indian side. Over the last two days, the Sri Lankans have been blatantly accused of overplaying their pollution woes by India bowling coach Bharat Arun and BCCI’s acting president CK Khanna, have been booed as ‘cheats’ and ‘losers’ by the Delhi crowd, and blamed by Virender Sehwag for using pollution as a tactic to deny Virat Kohli his triple hundred.
Maybe, Shami’s struggle will make everyone pause and rethink. Or maybe not! “Maybe they are uncomfortable, but there will be many in our team who are not used to this pollution,” India opener Shikhar said when asked if Shami’s struggle would make the team reconsider its stance regarding Lanka’s pollution woes. “I won’t say there’s no pollution in Delhi… But if you have been assigned a job (to play), you can’t let anything come in its way. All of us are not from Delhi, so it is the same for the Sri Lankans.” This reluctance to accept Lanka’s anguish as real is beyond comprehension. Why wouldn’t you accept their side of the story unless it’s proven wrong?
Doctor springs a surprise on Lanka
A doctor, called in by the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) to conduct a medical check-up of the Lankans and counsel them about pollution today, did try to prove that the Lankans were exaggerating. “I’ve run tests on three Lankan cricketers, but the rest backed out,” said AP Bhalla, who’s called for Ranji Trophy matches as well by DDCA. “Look, the pollution is there, but it’s not the calamity these guys are making it to be. Their lungs are fine. Remember, the Delhi Marathon was held here when the pollution was bad, but no one fell down then. And we have our own players playing here.” But one of our players did go down later in the evening? How would the doctor explain that? Anyway, Indian Medical Association’s president KK Agarwal has something different to offer. “Players from other countries will not be able to breathe in current situation. Our players might be accustomed to it, but they still should not be exposed to such air quality. It is dangerous and medically not advisable. The Sri Lankan players were right to protest,” he was quoted as saying by a newspaper today.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s pacer Suranga Lakmal, too, threw up on the field this morning. The Lankan team could have used the two instances as proof of their troubles but the Lankan coach Nic Pothas chose not to dwell much on it. “Our discomfort speaks for itself, the rest we cannot control and no use talking about it. Shami too was struggling in the evening…,” said Pothas, making his point without creating much of a fuss.
As for India, as far as this issue is concerned, they seem to be riding a tiger they can’t dismount.
New Delhi, December 5