At least someone visiting the Capital has found an improvement in air quality and atmosphere from previous years.
Wicketkeeper-batsman KS Bharat, who is favourite to play for India in next month’s Test series against Australia in the absence of the injured Rishabh Pant, is in the Capital with the Andhra team playing a Ranji Trophy game against Delhi at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds of the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
“Compared to previous years, I feel it (air quality) is better. That is definitely better. No complaints about it,” said Bharat at the end of the third day’s play. He scored 80 as Andhra totalled 459/9 in first innings. Delhi were 300/4 at the end of third day’s play.
Bharat has been a regular visitor to Delhi for domestic cricket matches as well as Indian Premier League matches for the Delhi franchise, firstly in 2015 when it was called Delhi Daredevils and later in 2022, when it was known as Delhi Capitals.
Delhi’s air quality has been notorious for cricketers in the past. In a 2017 Test match, eight Sri Lankan players wore masks and took field at the Kotla due to poor air quality. In 2019, visiting Bangladesh Test players wore masks while training at the same venue in the Capital. There have been instances when the start of first-class matches has been delayed due to smog leading to criticism.
Cold giving jitters
However, it is the cold that is troubling not just Bharat but other Andhra players as well.
“The one-two hours in the morning is big challenge for us,” he told media before calling the spine-chilling cold worse than what he has faced on tours of England.
“It is cold there [in England], but here it is too cold,” said Bharat, who has also represented India A, the second rung Indian team, in quite a few games.
Two of the Andhra players, Ricky Bhui and CR Gnaneshwar, have fallen sick and were wearing masks while fielding. One of them had a woollen cap on.
“They are not feeling well. Ricky has a sore throat. CR Gnaneshwar is feeling a bit feverish. That is the reason why they have put up a mask,” revealed Bharat.
Last month too, some Tamil Nadu players, like pacer L Vignesh, wore woollen skull caps and ear plugs in their Ranji Trophy match against Delhi to beat cold.
“We have been trying to get used to the cold here,” TN pace bowler Sandeep Warrier, who is a Keralite, had said back then.
Delhi has been witnessing a cold wave but Thursday was a bit better with a high of 19 degrees Celsius and a low of 12 degrees Celsius. Over the past three days during Andhra team’s stay here, the low has been between six degrees to eight degrees.