On Thursday, when Pakistan take on India at the Eden, the concept of day-night one-day matches in the country could change forever.
The second ODI in this three-match series and the one after this, in Delhi on January 6, will begin at noon instead of the regular 2.30pm. Not just that, in the five-match series against England, which gets underway on January 11, except for the final ODI in Dharamsala, a day game, all other matches will start at noon.
In day-night matches in the sub-continent, especially during the winters, dew in the evening has always played a vital role. Spinners have found it difficult to grip a wet ball.
Wickets, which have helped spinners in the afternoon, have changed drastically under lights, with the dew getting the ball to skid off the surface and negate spin. Even medium-pacers have found it difficult to swing or reverse a ball that is uniformly soggy.
So, winning the toss and fielding first was the norm in such conditions, thus making it a lopsided contest.
India skipper, MS Dhoni, hailed the move on Wednesday. “I think the toss doesn’t become vital and the wicket remains quite the same in both the innings. What we have seen is that, in winters, there is a lot of dew and if you lose the toss, then 70-75% of the time, the team that bats second wins the game unless you get off to a very bad start in the second innings. I think, overall, it will bring in good balance and the team that plays good cricket will win,” said Dhoni.
Pakistan skipper, Misbah-ul Haq, however, did not want to read too much into it. “I don’t think a noon start will make a big difference because it’s just like another day-night game. Most of the time, you are playing in the day,” he said.
Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim though backed Dhoni. “In Bangladesh during the winters, we have had situations where there was so much dew that our spinners faced problems. Batting becomes easy and no target is safe. A 12 o’clock start is a good idea,” he said from Dhaka.
Deep Dasgupta, who led Bengal to consecutive Ranji finals, however, had more to add. “A noon start certainly provides a more level-playing field. But toss could still be a factor because around noon, around which time the post-lunch session begins, Eden is one of the best surfaces to bat on.”