High levels of pollution and smog have forced the cancellation of two Ranji Trophy fixtures in Delhi: the Group A clash between Gujarat and Bengal and the Group C fixture between Hyderabad and Tripura.
Both matches will now be played after the league phase, the BCCI announced, without mentioning specific dates or venues. With the league phase ending on December 10 and the quarter-finals scheduled to begin on December 17, it is unclear if the knockouts will be pushed back by a few days to accommodate these rescheduled games. The status of the next round's games in Delhi, between Odisha-Assam and Hyderabad-Services, scheduled to begin from from November 13, also isn't clear yet.
Not a single ball was bowled in either game, at the Feroz Shah Kotla and the Karnail Singh Stadium. Play was called off on the second afternoon after there was no improvement in the air quality.
"The teams were informed around 3.15 in the afternoon that the match was called off," Sairaj Bahutule, the Bengal coach, told ESPNcricinfo. "Our eyes were burning. Some of the guys had headaches. Pollution was at the highest level. This is the first time in my cricketing life I have come across such a scenario."
At the Karnail Singh Stadium, Hyderabad and Tripura had a meeting at 11.30am, along with the match officials, and upon further inspection, the game was called off. "We could not even stand outside as our eyes started burning. It was impossible to run in or do anything," Bharat Arun, the Hyderabad coach, said.
The players had complained of burning eyes on the opening day as well. Although the sun came out, it failed to penetrate the thick layer of smog that has enveloped the national capital, resulting in poor visibility. The smog is believed to be an after-effect of Diwali fireworks, as well as the burning of paddy stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
"Yesterday, in the afternoon, when light improved, we went out to toss. But the dust and pollution was so bad that our eyes started to water," Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary told ESPNcricinfo. "In consultation with both captains, it was decided that we'll call off play. But today, when the same situation persisted, the match referees decided it was unsafe to even attempt to play. It was called off a little after 3pm. We've played a lot of cricket in the north, especially Delhi, in winter months in the past. But I haven't seen anything like this."