New Rivalries: Cricket Vs Delhi Smog; Dada Vs Dew!

New cricket rivalries are emerging at the moment in India, immediately after former India captain Sourav Ganguly took charge as President, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on 23rd October, 2019. All cricket lovers including cricket commentators and top players welcomed taking over charge by Ganguly, mainly because for the first time a real cricketer—and an aggressive one too—has occupied the most important position. True to his nature, Sourav has already started planning for a productive era of Indian cricket; he met the present India captain Virat Kohli too. In the course of this he took two crucial decisions which are loaded with suspense and tension.

India-Bangladesh Series-2019 is set to start with a T20I match to be played in Delhi on 3rd November and there was a hue and cry over it due to the pollution levels in the national capital spiking to severe levels, particularly after Diwali celebrations and the continued stubble burning in the countryside. Cricketer turned politician Gautam Gambhir recently commented that pollution is far more serious than a cricket match; many others including environmentalists also objected on the ground that continued exposure of the cricketers to the ‘severe’ Air Quality Index (AQI) might cause serious damage to their health. Sourav Ganguly took the first decision—that now it was too late to shift the match to other venues. Players have already started practice in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley stadium (Firoz Shah Kotla ground renamed after the demise of the great leader), and it is reported that more masks are on the way for Bangladesh.

Delhi pollution repeatedly interrupted play during a Test match in Delhi in December, 2017 between India and Sri Lanka, and it was the first instance of such a kind, internationally. Sri Lanka players wore masks on the field and reportedly vomited again and again due to the pollution. Therefore, what is going to be the scenario on the evening of 3rd November remains tense and suspenseful.

Sourav Ganguly’s second decision was more historic and bold. He ushered in day-and-night Test cricket for the first time in India, which was pending for quite some time, after convincing BCCI officials, the India captain and Bangladesh cricket. So then, the first ever day-and-night Test match between India and Bangladesh is to be played from 22nd November, 2019 at the majestic Eden Gardens, Kolkata, Sourav’s hometown where he is popularly known as ‘Dada’. Now, since it is the start of winter in most parts of India the dew factor is going to be crucial, particularly for the bowlers. It will be a new rivalry between Dada and Dew, and what is going to unfold during those five days is also laden with suspense and concern.

This Series between dominant India, after their Test white wash against South Africa and a highly competitive Bangladesh side is, therefore, being looked upon by all with tremendous interest and worries. Immediately, we are looking at the first T20I in Delhi where the AQI is still over the 400 ‘severe’ mark at the moment. Pollution forecasts are also not so reassuring for the coming days. We can only hope competitive cricket happen without causing any harm to the cricketers and excited fans and spectators. Would ‘Dadagiri’ be able to prevail over the new cricket rivalries? Let’s wait and watch.

P.S: As on 01.11.19, health emergency declared in Delhi, all schools closed till 5th November, all construction work stopped till 5th November, some industries also closed. And of course, BCCI refuses to consider changing the venue for the T20I match.