Pollution forces Test match delay
THE third cricket Test between India and Sri Lanka has been halted with visiting coach Nic Pothas declaring the smog was so extreme that his players were "coming off the field and vomiting".
Concentrations of harmful airborne pollutants in Delhi, one of the world's most polluted capitals climbed to 15 times the World Health Organisation maximum before returning to levels considered just "unhealthy", the US embassy website showed.
Play was halted for about 20 minutes at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium as Sri Lankan fielders, who took the extraordinary step of wearing face masks, complained of health troubles and the umpires consulted the match referee and team doctors.
Play resumed but Sri Lanka continued to protest about the conditions and they were soon short on fielders as pacemen Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal returned to the pavilion.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli declared his first innings on 7-536 to get the visiting fielders off the ground after the third stoppage.
India's powerful cricket board was less than impressed, accusing the visitors of making a fuss, and vowed to write to its Sri Lankan counterpart about the incident.
But Pothas said his men were physically sick amid the "extremely high" pollution levels choking the ground.
"We had players coming off the field and vomiting," he said.
"There were oxygen cylinders in the change room. It's not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game."
Pothas said Lakmal was "continuously vomiting" in the changing room, where the team doctors and the match referee had gathered to assess the situation.
"I think it's the first time that everybody has come across that situation," he said.
"There aren't too many rules regarding pollution. What we are going to do tomorrow is in the hands of the match referee. They will have meetings tonight to put in some sort of a precedent if it happens like this tomorrow."
Delhi has been ranked among the world's most polluted capital cities, with air quality worsening in winter as cooler air traps pollutants near the ground.
Doctors last month declared a public health emergency in the capital as pollution soared to 40 times the level deemed safe by the WHO, shutting down schools for days.
But that did not stop more than 30,000 runners competing in the Delhi half-marathon last month, despite dire health warnings from doctors who called for the race to be postponed.