Sri Lankan cricketers wear face masks as pollution hits test

Sri Lanka's players, wearing anti-pollution masks, speak to each other as the game was briefly stopped during the second day of their third test cricket match in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NEW DELHI (AP) Sri Lanka’s cricketers wore face masks and the bowlers complained of shortness of breath as play was stopped three times during the middle session because of concerns over air pollution on day two of the third test match against India.

With India set to resume after the lunch interval Sunday at 500-5, with skipper Virat Kohli unbeaten on 225, most of the Sri Lankan players walked onto the field wearing masks and complaining about the air quality.

Play was stopped for 20 minutes for the first time halfway through the session.

Umpires Nigel Llong and Joel Wilson consulted both team physiotherapists and the players before agreeing to resume, with the Indian batsmen eager to continue the innings.

The Sri Lanka pace bowlers complained of breathlessness, and Lahiru Gamage asked for medical attention in the 123rd over. Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal had a lengthy discussion with the umpires, and Sri Lanka’s team manager Asanka Gurusinha also joined in the conversation on two separate occasions.

In the 127th over, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal also complained of being short of breath and asked for medical help before leaving the field. Sri Lanka team support staff members were preparing to go on to field when it appeared the team would run out of substitute fielders.

India coach Ravi Shastri and Sri Lankan coach Nic Pothas had separate conversations with the umpires but played continued.

Kohli was eventually dismissed for 243 and, seeing that Sri Lanka no longer wanted to stay in the field, he declared the India innings closed at 536-7.

The Indian capital has recently experienced elevated levels of air pollution, and a public health emergency was declared last month.

A lack of wind and cloud cover over Delhi also contributed to weather conditions not improving on Sunday afternoon.

On Nov. 19, the Delhi Marathon was held with 35,000 runners participating despite health warnings.