Doctors say no to sport in Delhi as cricketers choke in smog

Indian players celebrate the dismissal of Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews during the third day of their third test cricket match in New Delhi, India, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (AP)
Updated 05 December 2017
0

Doctors say no to sport in Delhi as cricketers choke in smog

NEW DELHI: Unprecedented scenes of Sri Lankan cricketers wearing face masks have reignited debate about hosting major sports in heavily polluted New Delhi, where doctors are increasingly vocal about the health risks posed by smog.
Medics on Monday urged cricket’s governing body to revise its rulebook after a Test match between India and Sri Lanka went ahead in the capital despite players vomiting and wheezing for air.
International cricketers returned Monday for day three of the third Test even as air pollution at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium soared to hit 18 times the World Health Organization’s safe level.
Play had been disrupted three times on Sunday as Sri Lankan players complained of illness, but umpires ruled the match would proceed.
The Indian Medical Association condemned the decision, warning that playing in such conditions put athletes’ health at serious risk.
“This match should not have taken place in the first place. It is time the ICC (International Cricket Council) comes up with a policy on pollution,” said IMA president K. K Aggarwal.
“You have fast bowlers, batsmen and fielders out there exposed to these very harmful pollutants over five days at a stretch. It takes a serious toll on your health in the long run.”
The sport’s governing body declined to comment.
India’s powerful cricket board accused Sri Lanka of making a “big fuss,” pointing to Indian skipper Virat Kohli who hit a record sixth Test double century despite the smog.
But the US embassy website on Monday urged Delhi residents to “avoid all outdoor exertion” as concentrations of the smallest and most harmful airborne pollutants known as PM2.5 soared to hazardous levels.
These tiny particles — a fraction the size of human hair — lodge deep in the lungs and are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease.
The concentration of such particles Monday hit 448 — compared to a maximum level of 25 considered safe by the World Health Organization over a 24-hour period.
Even limited exposure can cause shortness of breath and make the eyes weep and throat burn.
Pollution levels generally rise during the winter in Delhi and across northern India and neighboring Pakistan, fueled by crop burning in the region and the fact that cooler air traps particulates close to the ground.
The smog has become especially alarming in the past two years, casting doubt on the future of sports events in the sports-mad swathe of South Asia.
“This should be a wake up call for Pak. Our children are at a huge risk because of dangerous pollution levels,” tweeted former Pakistani cricketer and political opposition leader Imran Khan about the India-Sri Lanka Test.
Doctors and public health campaigners have escalated their fight against sports events in Delhi in recent years.
Last month more than 30,000 runners competed in the Delhi half-marathon — just days after smog shut schools amid a public health emergency in the capital.
Doctors warned of dire health consequences and challenged the race in court but it went ahead, with runners complaining of burning eyes and sore throats.
Greenpeace lobbied in October against India hosting the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, warning it posed unacceptable risks to the world’s youngest soccer stars.
It also proceeded but schedule was adjusted to avoid Delhi at its worst.
“Others should also think about athletes health first,” tweeted tournament director Javier Ceppi after images of Sri Lankan cricketers wearing face masks went around the globe.
Other events in Delhi — like an Asian tour golf title in November and Indian Super League football matches — attract less controversy but doctors say pose no less risk.
“Ideally, sporting events should not be scheduled in the winter months in Delhi,” chest and lung cancer specialist Doctor Arvind Kumar told AFP.
“We cannot expose our athletes to inhuman levels of pollution just because a few hundred crores (tens of millions of dollars) is at stake.”
The Test debacle in Delhi is not the first time cricketers have complained of air pollution in the capital, with Australia citing smoggy air following their loss to India in 1996.


Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

Updated 23 March 2019
0

Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

SHARJAH: Aaron Finch's fine century drove Australia to a convincing eight-wicket win over a new-look Pakistan in the first one-day international on Friday.
The Austraian skipper scored 116 off 135 balls for his 12th one-day international century that helped his team overhaul the 281-run target in 49 overs on a flat Sharjah stadium pitch.
The win gives Australia the lead in the five-match series and has come on the back of their 3-2 series win in India earlier this month.
Finch's match-winning knock overshadowed Haris Sohail's maiden one-day hundred (101 not out) which helped Pakistan to 280-5 in their 50 overs.
The 32-year-old smashed Shoaib Malik for a huge six towards deep mid-wicket to complete his century -- his first since June last year against England at Chester-Le-Street -- off 120 balls.
Finch, who knocked four sixes and eight boundaries, added an innings-building 172 runs for the second wicket with Shaun Marsh who scored an unbeaten 91 off 102 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
With 46 needed Finch became Mohammad Abbas's maiden wicket but Peter Handscomb hit 30 not out to help Marsh cross the line.
Finch and Marsh came together after opener Usman Khawaja fell for 24 to medium pacer Faheem Ashraf, the only other success Pakistan's new-look bowling attack could achieve.
Pakistan rested six of their key players including regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in order to keep them fresh for the World Cup starting in UK from May 30.
But the young and inexperienced Pakistan led by Malik proved no match for Australia, who are on a roll after their win in India earlier this month.
Left-hander Sohail, who reached 1,000 runs in his 27th one-day international when on 40, anchored Pakistan's innings, adding 98 for the third wicket with Umar Akmal who made a 50-ball 48 in his first international match for two years.
Sohail took a single to complete his hundred in the last over, finishing with six boundaries and a six.
Pakistan had handed one-day debuts to opener Shan Masood and Abbas -- who have played 15 and 14 Tests respectively.
Masood put on 35 in an opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq (17) before off-spinner Nathan Lyon dismissed Imam in the seventh over, caught and bowled.
Masood, who hit five boundaries in his 62-ball 40, was then bowled by paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile who finished with 1-38 in his 10 overs.
Umar smashed three sixes in one Jhye Richardson over but fell one short of his half century.
Malik fell for 11 and Ashraf and Imad Wasim scored 28 each.
Wasim hit four boundaries and a six during his 13-ball unbeaten knock, helping Pakistan to 55 runs in the last five overs.
Sunday's second ODI is also being played in Sharjah, with the third in Abu Dhabi (March 27) and the last two in Dubai (March 29 and 31).