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  • 28 March 2019
    High levels of pollution and smog have forced the cancellation of two Ranji Trophy fixtures in Delhi: the Group A clash between Gujarat and Bengal and the Group C fixture between Hyderabad and Tripura.Both matches will now be played after the league phase, the BCCI announced, without mentioning specific dates or venues. With the league phase ending on December 10 and the quarter-finals scheduled to begin on December 17, it is unclear if the knockouts will be pushed back by a few days to accommodate these rescheduled games. The status of the next rounds games in Delhi, between Odisha-Assam and Hyderabad-Services, scheduled to begin from from November 13, also isnt clear yet.Not a single ball was bowled in either game, at the Feroz Shah Kotla and the Karnail Singh Stadium. Play was called off on the second afternoon after there was no improvement in the air quality.The teams were informed around 3.15 in the afternoon that the match was called off, Sairaj Bahutule, the Bengal coach, told ESPNcricinfo. Our eyes were burning. Some of the guys had headaches. Pollution was at the highest level. This is the first time in my cricketing life I have come across such a scenario. At the Karnail Singh Stadium, Hyderabad and Tripura had a meeting at 11.30am, along with the match officials, and upon further inspection, the game was called off. We could not even stand outside as our eyes started burning. It was impossible to run in or do anything, Bharat Arun, the Hyderabad coach, said.The players had complained of burning eyes on the opening day as well. Although the sun came out, it failed to penetrate the thick layer of smog that has enveloped the national capital, resulting in poor visibility. The smog is believed to be an after-effect of Diwali fireworks, as well as the burning of paddy stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.Yesterday, in the afternoon, when light improved, we went out to toss. But the dust and pollution was so bad that our eyes started to water, Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary told ESPNcricinfo. In consultation with both captains, it was decided that well call off play. But today, when the same situation persisted, the match referees decided it was unsafe to even attempt to play. It was called off a little after 3pm. Weve played a lot of cricket in the north, especially Delhi, in winter months in the past. But I havent seen anything like this. Jerseys From China . Thousands of Southern California fans enveloped the Trojans to celebrate an improbable win secured by an interim coach, an inconsistent kicker and a thin defence that wouldnt break. Cheap Throwback Jerseys . Then the Pacers gave Oladipo and his Orlando teammates the cold shoulder. 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For Sam Allardyce, Englands long journey back to respectability in world soccer starts with lightening up and having some fun.The national teams new coach has lined up comedians from British television to host a quiz night at Englands training camp. Hes urging players to chill out by playing pool and table-tennis in their downtime. There are photographs and messages on the walls of the national training center, one of which reads: The Journey Begins Here.I havent come here to be miserable, Allardyce said.Miserable just about sums up Englands experiences over the last two years. After a group-stage elimination at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil came the humiliating last-16 loss to tiny Iceland at the European Championship in June.The country that invented football is now something of a joke in the global game because of its implosions every two years at major soccer tournaments. Its widely believed that Englands players have the talent, but are mentally fragile on the big stage -- and thats what Allardyce has set about changing after taking over from Roy Hodgson in July.Big Sam, as he is known, wants to create an environment where his players feel comfortable and relaxed when they report for England duty. Hence the new ideas and the new look at St. Georges Park, a national training center located in a sleepy town in central England and opened in 2012 at a cost of $160 million.The facility itself is fantastic, but there are some times when you can feel like you are stuck here a bit, Allardyce said. Weve walked around saying, `What can we do to make more of an impact on the players?There will be other messages. Its the journey we are on. I just wanted to brighten this place up.The England squad met up Monday for the first time since its embarrassing Euro 2016 exit in Nice two months ago, annd Wayne Rooney -- Englands captain -- was asked Tuesday for his initial thoughts on the new coach.ddddddddddddYou can see hes a relaxed guy, Rooney said, with a laugh.Allardyce is trying his best to make a good early impression. Arriving at St. Georges Park, journalists were handed a typed letter from Allardyce, saying he was looking forward to working with them and to making the nation proud of our football team.The journey starts with Englands opening qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, against Slovakia on Sunday. But it isnt in qualifiers or friendlies where England is judged, rather in the knockout games in World Cups or European Championships -- where reputations and history is really on the line.A new era doesnt mean a new captain.Rooney will keep the armband under Allardyce, who sees the Manchester United striker as the right choice to lead the team because he is the most senior and respected member of the squad.Rooney said Tuesday he will not play for England beyond the next World Cup, so Russia in 2018 is his last shot at a trophy on the international stage. That is also when Allardyces contract runs to.Im going to try and enjoy these two years, Rooney said, and hopefully I can end my career with England on a high.I started playing football professionally when I was 16, international football when I was 17. So 15 years of international football is a lot of years and, in my eyes, I think that would be the right time to finish.By then, it should also be clear if Allardyces new approach has worked.The difficulty lies in coping with tournament football and trying to find a solution, Allardyce said. But I cant think about that until we get there. ' ' '