As cricketers donning shiny yellow and orange jerseys take the field at the hallowed Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in a fiercely competitive 23rd match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderbad, just at a distance of 4km, more than 50 corpses probably will be burnt together at a time at the Nigam Bodh Ghat tonight.
Off to flier, the IPL reaches the capital city of New Delhi on Wednesday after series of matches being hosted in Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad. Operating like a well-oiled unit, Chennai Super Kings will start as overwhelming favourites when they clash with struggling Sunrisers Hyderabad. It will be an onerous task for SRH to revive their fortunes with the limited resources they have at their disposal. Amid all the frenzy of the action-packed match, the city will be abuzz during the time with the loud wails of ambulances.
The national capital happens to be one of the worst affected states amid the second wave of the COVID-19. Delhi witnessed the highest number of fatalities in a day at 381 and the overall toll crossing the 15,000 mark. In the past 24 hours, 381 people succumbed to Covid-19, surpassing the figure of 380 recorded on Monday. This is the sixth day on the trot that Delhi has recorded over 300 deaths due to coronavirus.
Delhi is also frantically battling for Oxygen. At least two hospitals in Delhi have seen patients die after oxygen supplies ran out. Families finding it taxing to admit sick patients at the hospitals, while many died waiting in the queue. Social media is overwhelmed with frantic pleas for help, with people desperately searching for oxygen cylinders, medicines, and ICU beds.
There is a queue not just at the hospitals, but also at crematoriums. Such is the flow of dead bodies, that crematoriums are building additional platforms to accommodate them. The cremation ground at Sarai Kale Khan of Delhi is constructing new platforms at a park inside the crematorium premises to tackle the influx of dead bodies. The authorities have reportedly cut down trees in city parks for use as kindling on funeral pyres. Relatives of the dead have also been asked to help with cremations by piling wood and assisting in other rituals.
Over the past 10 days, the number of bodies that have been brought to the crematoriums in Delhi has doubled. At a crematorium in Geeta Colony, the situation is so dire that relatives had to wait for wood outside the crematorium.
Amid such hostility, many questioned the feasibility to conduct the matches in the state. Nonetheless, the games in Delhi are scheduled to go ahead, while Delhi & Districts Cricket Association has expressed faith in the foolproof bio-bubble created for the safety of the players. Furthermore, every participating member has been advised to travel wearing double masks and full PPE kits.
In social media debates over whether the IPL show should go on, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been accused of being "tone-deaf" for its stance. BCCI has maintained that cricket is providing important solace and entertainment to many people during hard times, even though fans are not being allowed into stadiums to watch the games.
The tournament is watched by millions of viewers on television."It's probably more important now to hold IPL, when there is so much negativity around," the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity. As Delhi goes on counting the increasing number of fatality amid COVID surge, IPL becomes a daily affair for the next few days in the capital.