'I hope that pollution will not come in the way of cricket. To reduce pollution, we are also implementing the odd-even scheme from November 4.'
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hopes pollution will not affect the India-Bangladesh T20 International in the city on November 3, emphasising that his government has been taking steps such as the odd-even scheme to improve the air quality.
Kejriwal said matches have been played in this season in New Delhi and the opening T20 international scheduled to be held at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Sunday should be played.
The prevailing air pollution in Delhi has become a cause for concern. The air quality on Monday, a day after Diwali, plummeted to the "severe" category for the first time this season.
"I hope that pollution will not come in the way of cricket. To reduce pollution, we are also implementing the odd-even scheme from November 4," Kejriwal said on Monday.
"I have seen that in this season matches have been played earlier as well. Match should be played in Delhi," he added.
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan cricket team was left gasping for breath during a Test match at the same venue, then named Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, forcing most of their players to wear protective masks even though some fell ill.
"Look, we have factored in the post-Diwali air pollution in Delhi but since the match is a week away, we are hopeful that the players won't face any health hazards," a senior BCCI official told said last week. The official, however, acknowledged there are practical concerns.
The rotation policy followed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the travel route for the visiting team forced the Board to schedule the first match of the tour in Delhi, and they now hope the city's poor air quality doesn't become an issue during the night-time game.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, levels of PM2.5 -- tiny particulate matter of diameter 2.5 or less than 2.5 microns that can enter deep into the lungs -- reached as high as 735 at Delhi University on Monday.
Delhi's overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 463 at 11.30 am, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
The AQI at Pusa, Lodhi Road, Airport Terminal T3, Noida, Mathura Road, Ayanagar, IIT Delhi, Dhirpur, and Chandni Chowk was 480, 436, 460, 668, 413, 477, 483, 553 and 466, respectively.