SRI LANKA were laid low by debilitating smog and another Virat Kohli batting masterclass as they were left struggling to avoid the follow-on in the third Test against India in Delhi yesterday.
The tourists closed day two on 131 for three in reply to the home side’s mammoth 536 for seven declared — a total built around Kohli’s career-best 243.
However, the big talking point was the pollution in the Indian capital, one of the most populated cities in the world.
Faced with air quality described as “very poor” on the Delhi Traffic Police’s Twitter feed and “hazardous” by the Air Quality Index, the Sri Lanka players looked increasingly affected by the conditions as India continued to pile up the runs at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground.
Several of the visiting side came out after lunch wearing surgical masks over their mouths and noses, while stricken paceman Lahiru Gamage needed lengthy treatment from the team’s physio as the umpires discussed the situation with the players.
Soon afterwards, Gamage’s fellow seamer Suranga Lakmal was unable to finish his over and walked off the field, also seemingly feeling ill.
India were on 529 for seven off 126.5 overs when Lakmal left the pitch — leading to Sri Lanka team manager Asanka Gurusinha coming out to talk to the umpires, followed soon after by India head coach Ravi Shastri.
Play continued after that but only for one more over, when Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas also strode out to speak to the officials, at which point Kohli opted to declare.
In early November, doctors in New Delhi declared a public health emergency as a result of the pollution.
In some parts of the city the readings hit the maximum of 999 — equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.
Much of the pollution comes from the city’s 10 million cars as well as smoke from crop-burning in neighbouring states.