1st T20I: Rohit, Liton not concerned about Delhi’s pollution level
Rohit Sharma said he wasn't at any discomfort while training in Delhi. © ICC

Delhi’s air quality has landed in the “severe” category but India’s stand-in captain Rohit Sharma on Thursday said he doesn’t expect any pollution-related problems during Bangladesh T20I on Sunday even as BCCI president Sourav Ganguly promised “practical scheduling” in near future.

Bangladesh batsman Liton Das was briefly seen wearing a face mask during his team’s first training session at the Feroz Shah Kotla but he later clarified that it was not due to air pollution.

“No, no it was nothing to do with pollution. I just wore it myself as I had some problems,” Liton told reporters.

Rohit on his part felt that it won’t be a problem as they had not faced issues during the Sri Lanka Test in 2017, where the opposition players were wearing masks even as some of the cricketers fell ill due to it.

“We didn’t have any problem when we played the Test match here (against Sri Lanka). We are not aware of the exact discussion and I haven’t had any problem,” Rohit said during a promotional event in the capital.

Ganguly acknowledged that deteriorating air quality in NCR is an issue during post Diwali days but said it’s too late to change the itinerary. The newly-elected BCCI boss said in future they would be more “practical”.

“It’s too late to do anything, because a lot of preparations go into matches like tickets, crowds everything. So it’s not possible to cancel things at the last minute. Fingers crossed,” Ganguly said at Eden Gardens. “I think we will do that (consultation). In future, when we schedule, especially in the northern part of India during the winter, we will have to be a little bit more practical.”

When Liton was further asked if he had asthma-related issues, he replied: “Nothing like that. I was just wearing it as I wasn’t feeling well. No problems as such.”

Probed whether Bangladesh team was worried about Delhi’s poor air quality, Liton answered in negative. “No problems.”

With a thick Delhi smog hovering over Feroz Shah Kotla, Liton was asked if sighting an aerial white ball was a problem in smog while trying to catch, the player said that under lights, it will be fine.

“I don’t think when floodlights are on, it will be such a problem,” he said.

The BCCI has already made it clear that the match will go ahead as scheduled despite the issue of air quality being raised by environmentalists and cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir.

“I have just landed and haven’t had time to assess. As far as I know the game is to be played on November 3 and will be played,” Rohit, who will lead the side in the three-match series in the absence of a rested Virat Kohli, said at an event here.

The game Rohit was referring to took place in 2017 when the visiting Sri Lankan players sported face masks during the third Test. Play was also halted for about 20 minutes due to haze and the “very poor” air quality.

Delhi’s air quality, at this time of the year, remains either poor or severe owing to Diwali and stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. On Thursday, at the start of Bangladesh’s training, Liton, for a period of 10 minutes, wore a face mask. However, no other Bangladesh player was seen wearing the mask even though a thick layer of smog could be seen at Kotla.

Liton didn’t wear any mask when he batted at the nets.

“We are well prepared for the series as we had a training camp in Bangladesh and a couple of days of training here. It’s a good opportunity to adapt.”

Regarding Shakib, he said: “Shakib is the best player in our team and we are going to miss him. But even without Shakib, anything can happen in cricket. Previously, Shakib has been injured. We didn’t get him during Asia Cup.”

Asked how the team will deal knowing Shakib was in peak form during World Cup, Liton said: “If you look at our team, there are a lot of juniors, save Mushfiqur and Riyad. So we are looking at young guys to play their natural game and contribute. They are itching to perform.”

Questioned why Bangladesh can’t win close matches against India, Liton said: “I don’t know what kind of question is this? We have not finished well against India and hopefully we will turn things around this time.”

It has also been learnt from team sources that Bangladesh’s Test specialists including new skipper Mominul Haque and talented spinner Mehidy Hasan will be arriving in Nagpur on November 8.

“They will be arriving in Nagpur and start with pink ball training straightaway in between their red ball practice,” he said.