“Our doctor has been following the players closely. Some of the players did not show up for practice because they are asthmatic, so they stayed indoors,” Hathurusinghe said. “And even for practice, we are very conscious. We train what we have to train, and they go back to the locker room. They don’t spend time unless they are bowling or batting. We have taken some measures to minimize our exposure before the game. “
Hathurusinghe said that while selection for the game would not be influenced by air quality, the team is wary of the long-term effects of playing in such conditions. “We need to practice and continue to be careful about the long-term effect of these conditions,” he said. “The air quality is affecting both teams. It’s not ideal. But we have no choice. We have to play in the conditions in front of us.”
“Team selection will not depend on air quality. It will depend on the conditions, our strength and the opposition.”
Sri Lanka team manager Mahinda Halangoda said they would be guided by the advice of the ICC.
“We will definitely see the index. But obviously, we will be guided by the ICC and I think they have a medical panel here and therefore they will give us instructions,” Halangoda told PTI. “Today when we came, they told us to wear masks. But it depends on what the outside index is, and then we will make a call. We did not make a request to change (the venue). But we were asking the ICC what would happen because when we arrived here, we saw that the Bangladesh team had canceled (the training) and we saw the environment outside.
“So we just asked them what the plan is. They said they’ll have a discussion and then they’ll come back. I think they’ve set up some equipment here, and they have specialists to look at and they’re helping them.” “They have already informed us that they plan to move forward. Therefore, we will do exactly what the ICC tells us to do.”
According to ICC air quality guidelines, as well as a pulmonologist (lung specialist) whom the organizers have been consulting, an Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of less than 200 is considered safe for play in the most cases. A higher AQI could put your game at risk, but it is only a guideline and not a hard limit.
The AQI reading in the vicinity of the stadium, the Arun Jaitley Stadium, surpassed 400 on Sunday afternoon, having reached 500 at some points during the day. An air emergency was declared in Delhi on Thursday as the AQI surpassed 400 at several locations in the city, forcing the government to close schools for two days and impose restrictions on construction and vehicle traffic. AQI levels in areas of the city are expected to be in the severe category until Tuesday 7 November.
An ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo on Saturday that the situation was being monitored. “The ICC and our hosts, the BCCI, take the welfare of all participants seriously and are monitoring the air quality in Delhi,” the spokesperson said. “We are seeking expert advice to assess the situation.”
BCCI staff have been taking air quality readings from ground-based portable devices. They will continue to do this before the game to determine if the air quality is at a safe level for play. Organizers will also take mitigation measures, such as turning on sprinklers before the game, which is expected to help reduce pollution levels in the vicinity of the ground. They will also ask players to stay inside their locker rooms, where air purifiers will be operational, rather than on the bench. ESPNcricinfo understands that referees will treat air pollution just as they would the weather, deciding whether conditions are suitable for play or not, and removing players from the field when necessary.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo correspondent in Bangladesh. @isam84