Australia, England to clash on Diwali night!
Ashes rivals will play in Jaipur next month amid deafening blasts, choking air and poor visibility.Updated: Sep 28, 2006 18:25 IST
Australia and England will play their Champions Trophy match in India next month amid deafening blasts, choking air and poor visibility.
The group A match in the 10-nation tournament is slated in the northwestern city of Jaipur on October 21, the day India celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights.
Diwali, the country's biggest Hindu festival, is marked by ear-splitting fireworks that begin at dusk and continue for hours, leaving a dark haze of smoke and heavily polluted air.
A recent non-governmental study said noise levels soar by nearly 200 percent on Diwali and the air is polluted at least 150 times more than already-high levels, leading to increased cases of asthma.
Firecrackers are banned from the Sawai Man Singh stadium, the match venue, but it is likely to be engulfed in a thick blanket of smoke from those let off in adjoining areas.
The peak hours of the celebrations will coincide with the second innings of the day-night international.
There will be no let-up even in the first session since firecrackers are let off from morning of the auspicious festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Day matches have been played before on Diwali, but this is the first time a day-night international has been scheduled.
Local organisers say the match will go off smoothly, but residents in Jaipur and elsewhere are aghast that a cricket international will be played on Diwali evening.
"It's bad scheduling," said Jaipur chartered accountant Rajesh Mathur. "I don't think Australia and England know what awaits them."
Added cricket fan Venayak Gupta: "What if one of those paper rockets lands inside the stadium? There could be chaos.
"Moreover, who wants to watch cricket on Diwali. I will be celebrating at home."
Both England and Australia have in the past complained about polluted air while touring India.
The date for this year's Diwali, which is fixed according to the Hindu calendar, was known in January. The schedule for the Champions Trophy was finalised in April.
The Champions Trophy, organised every two years by the International Cricket Council to raise funds for its development program, features all the 10 Test-playing nations.
This year's event will be held from October 7 to November 5 at four centres in India - Mumbai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mohali.
First Published: Sep 04, 2006 14:29 IST