Pink ball made its official debut in India’s premier domestic competition, Duleep Trophy, and left batsmen reeling on Tuesday.
India Green bowlers bundled out India Red for 161 in less than two sessions in the day-night match at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik stadium in Greater Noida. The Red bowlers struck back as 17 wickets tumbled on the opening day.
Punjab pacer Sandeep Sharma grabbed four wickets and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha took three for Green. India Red’s Nathu Singh and Kuldeep Yadav gave it back by picking three wickets each as Green were reduced to 116/7 at stumps.
Although India Green pacers bowled a good line, the India Red batsmen kept throwing away wickets. The ball swung initially, was hard in the middle overs and spinners extracted turn later, but the batsmen were impatient and guilty of poor shot selection.
The big interest was over how much the pink ball would swing and behave under lights. Sandeep Sharma, was not quick, but swung the ball and was intelligent. He bowled fuller with the new ball, inviting the openers Abhinav Mukund and KS Bharat to drive. The ball swung a lot and easy for the batsmen to spot, but Sandeep tightened the line and it paid off.
One player said: “The ball is similar to the white Kookaburra ball. It swings early on and if it is well maintained and conditions are helpful in the evening, the ball will swing.”
After the first session, as the ball swung less, Tamil Nadu left-hander Mukund handled the pacers well, top-scoring with 77 for India Red. “Yesterday, I had problems sighting the ball in the nets but today I was sighting it well and getting into good positions to play the shots,” said Mukund.
Former India spinner Ojha eventually bowled Mukund with one that dipped and turned. “As a spinner there were no problems in gripping the ball. Some deliveries drifted a little, and I thoroughly loved bowling with the pink ball,” he said.
Red pacer Nathu Singh scalped three wickets, extracting generous swing. There was no swing under lights, but it broke off the surface and UP chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav cashed in.