The Delhi Test could literally come under a cloud of smog and haze at least on Day 1. The third India vs Australia Test begins on October 29, the morning after Diwali, when the pollution level in the city would be at its highest and the visibility hovering around the lowest.
Traditionally, the early half of the day after Diwali is generally as bad as the festival night itself in terms of pollution and visibility. And that could possibly mean a spot of bother for the players.
"We are not expecting any major trouble if the weather remains warm and sunny. But if the temperature drops and there's stillness around (little or no breeze), there could be some problems as far as visibility is concerned," JM Mauskar, chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board, told the Hindustan Times Basically because a breezy day will ensure that the smog from the night's firecrackers would be brushed away.
The weather forecast, however, is a mixed bag. Weather.com predicts a sunny Wednesday but at the same time, it also predicts a completely still and muggy day, with winds travelling at a mere 6km/hour.
Besides visibility, exposure to increased pollution levels (including in the run-up to the Test) could cause some health problems, ranging from possible respiratory trouble to irritation in the eye and allergic reactions.
It's an interesting situation for the Australians to be in. During a one-off Test at the Kotla in 1996, Mark Taylor's Australians complained of respiratory problems and irritation resulting from high pollution levels and blamed their loss on that.
While the situation in Delhi has dramatically improved since then with the strict implementation of CNG for public transport and mandatory pollution checks, the Capital remains one of the world's 'haziest' cities. A Forbes story (quoting a Mercer report) this year put Delhi at 24th out of 25 of the world's most polluted cities.
At the moment though, the Australians, desperately worried about going 2-0 down in the series, aren't too bothered by the air. "It has just not crossed our minds. We are just focussing on the Test and just aren't concerned about anything else," said a source from the Australian camp.
Well, let's just hope for a sunny, breezy day. At least then, if India win, a Test loss can't be blamed on anything but the cricket.