India, a powerhouse in the world of cricket have seldom embraced tweaks in the longer format, as suggested by their reluctance to employ DRS or play day-night Tests in the past. The last little change that the subcontinental giant embraced without complaint was printing player names on whites.
So after much posturing, four years since the first ever day-night Test, India finally relented and agreed to a participate in a pink ball event. They will take on Bangladesh at Eden Gardens, the oldest surviving Test ground in Asia, in a day-night Test on November 22.
The BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and his staff were keen on bringing pink ball cricket to the country and not only did they manage to get the Bangladesh Cricket Board to agree, they also got the nod of approval from their own skipper Virat Kohli.
India have inexplicably refused to embrace the longer format under lights despite experimenting with the same in the domestic circuit as early as 1997. The Ranji Trophy final of the 1996-97 season, between Mumbai and Delhi, was played under lights at Gwalior.
Despite red balls being changed every forty overs and insects causing havoc in the late evenings, the players who participated in that final deemed the experiment a success.
The BCCI later experimented with pink ball cricket in its Duleep Trophy domestic championship in 2016. There were no problems during that tournament with one minor complaint being the absence of reverse swing with the pink Kookaburra ball in use. Some of India’s current Test stars like Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav featured in that tournament.
In 2018, India refused to play a day-night Test at the home of the pink ball Tests, Adelaide, with India’s head coach, Ravi Shastri suggesting they would need 18 months to be ready for the format.
Lo and behold, a year and a half later, not only are India set to host their first ever day-night Test, they are also dragging their neighbours along for a debut in whites under the lights.
What will be different about the Test at Eden GardensThe first ever Test under lights in the subcontinent will also be the first one to be held in winter. Eleven day-night Tests have been played in the past in seven different venues and in also those occasions they were held during the summer.
BCCI are also plotting to schedule the start of the Test at around 1330 local time so that only the third session alone is played under lights and the dew factor is mitigated.
There are going to be new balls as well with the famous SG balls being draped in pink. The previous 11 matches and the above mentioned Duleep Trophy matches were played with pink Kookaburra balls.
SG red balls were berated by Indian players last year with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin calling them sub-standard as they tended to became soft quickly. The pink ball does get scuffed up soon and it will be interesting to see how the SG pink performs under lights at the Eden Gardens.
All the other pink ball Tests have provided results. India or Bangladesh could become the seventh team to win a Test under lights or become the first pair of teams to be involved in pink ball draw. Given the absence of Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal and the prospect of bowling to an in-form Rohit Sharma at Eden Gardens, a draw could be as good as a victory for the Tigers.
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