The Board of Control for Cricket in India took the unprecedented step of calling off the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 Group A clash between Gujarat and Bengal on Sunday (November 6) due to dangerous levels of pollution. After another eventless, frustrating and smog-filled day at the Feroze Shah Kotla in New Delhi, P Ranganathan, the match referee, received the go-ahead from the board to call off proceedings.
The official call-off was at 3.05 pm, and it is understood that the BCCI will explore the possibility of postponing the fixture to a later date. As of now, the points tally for both Bengal and Gujarat will remain unaffected, with both teams on 15 points in three games.
Wisden India understands that the safety and comfort of the players was a factor in the decision to cancel the match. For a second consecutive day, the players were cooped up inside their respective dressing rooms, with the smog showing no signs of abating. They had complained about a burning sensation in their eyes on the first day, and an attempt at toss had been abandoned on day one due to the same reason.
On the second morning, the players once again went about the warm-up drills, but once it became apparent that the situation was as bad as, if not worse than, the previous day, they returned to the confines of their dressing rooms. There was talk of the teams returning to their hotels after the scheduled lunch break, but they stayed put till the match was officially called off shortly after scheduled tea.
Ranganathan, along with umpires K Bharatan and Virender Sharma, conducted inspections of the playing field every 40 minutes. But, as on the first day, the smog was just too thick, making for poor light and visibility, and more worryingly, poisonous breathing air.
Manoj Tiwary, the Bengal captain, had revealed after the first day that the team had specifically asked for protective masks. He had also spoken of having a sit-down with the team physio, a pointer to the underlying fears the players had regarding playing in such conditions.