Ranji Trophy 2018-19: To combat Delhi pollution, Mumbai’s Siddhesh Lad bats with mask

New Delhi: It can be difficult for a father to “plot” his son’s dismissal but Railways’ observer Dinesh Lad has been handed the unenviable task — to devise a strategy for his in-form son Siddhesh — who plays for Mumbai. Lad was on the job on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy encounter between the two teams. Better known as Rohit Sharma’s childhood coach, Lad is a former Western Railway cricketer, who has been summoned by his employers to set the senior team’s house in order.

“I was only told yesterday that I would be the Railways observer for this season. I haven’t yet received any appointment letter so I will only meet the team after the end of the day’s play,” Lad told PTI while watching the proceedings from the Karnail Singh Stadium stands. So has he offered any tips to Railways bowlers on how to dismiss Siddhesh, and he laughed. “It’s a very tricky situation for a father. I have to think about my team and at the same time as a father, I don’t want my son to fail,” Lad said as Siddhesh stepped out to hit a classical on-drive off a spinner.

But this is not the first time that the father and son find themselves in opposite sides. “During a Times Shield game, I was coaching Western Railways while Siddhesh was playing for Indian Oil Corporation. So this is not the first time,” Lad said. If Siddhesh is unbeaten at the end of the day, what will be his advice? “When a batsman is in good form, you have to be patient and wait for his mistake,” said Lad. Not the best solution for his bowlers but the fatherly indulgence needed to be factored in.

The son then wears anti-pollution mask: The infamous polluted air of the national capital made its presence felt during the post-lunch session when Siddhesh was seen wearing black anti-pollution mask while batting. Up against the spinners, Siddhesh wore the anti-pollution mask but during the first drinks break after lunch, he gave it back to the substitute fielder. His partner, Suryakumar Yadav, and the Railways team however didn’t wear anti-pollution mask. The air quality of Delhi in the months of November and December has been an issue for quite some time.

In 2016, a Ranji Trophy match between Bengal and Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla was cancelled due to smog. In 2017, the Sri Lankan players were seen wearing masks, complaining of breathing problems and dizziness while fielding due to air quality index being “severe”. The Test match continued but it was decided by the BCCI that it will not schedule any international matches — especially Test match — in the capital at this time of the year. There are indications that the air quality is set to worsen during the early part of November with crop burning in neighbouring Punjab as well as due to the pollution caused by bursting of crackers. The air quality is expected to be anything between “poor” and “severe”.

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