In a weird sign of things to come as pollution levels rise unchecked, mask-wearing Sri Lankan cricketers interrupted play for long durations and forced India into an unplanned declaration on the second day of the third Test here on Sunday. The first-ever incident of this kind in the sport's 140-year-old history saw an worldwide team don anti-pollution masks and then refuse to take field, stopping play for 26 minutes over three interruptions.
It was an unprecedented event as members of the team management stay away from such issues.
Lanka coach Nic Pothas said. "The conditions are the same for both teams, we were not too bothered about it".
Record-breaking India skipper Virat Kohli, who was dismissed for 243 after the action resumed, was forced to declare at 536 for seven as some of the visiting team's substitute fielders too refused to play. "We didn't want to stop the game". They had got extremely high at one point, we had players coming off the field and vomiting. "We just wanted to have some clarity on the safety of the players", the South African said.
"It is not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game". It's a very unique case. I don't think we were too anxious about pollution.
"Besides, I, in my capacity as an MP, had called a round table on the subject of pollution earlier this year and after deliberations, had sent a letter to the environment minister to take concrete action or allocate budget for taking steps for addressing the issue", he said and alleged that "the government has not taken any action on it". Gamage bagged a wicket with his first ball after resumption, that of Ashwin, but three balls into his next over, the bowler left the field mid-over. This was after Indian coach Ravi Shastri had also come out to intimate to the umpires about what he felt was right.
There were more stoppages in play and plenty of confusion as the Sri Lankan players kept talking animatedly to the umpires between overs.