The pink ball seems to have passed its first big test in India. While the bowlers are enjoying picking wickets with the bright ball, batsmen are also coming to terms with it in the ongoing day-night Duleep Trophy opener.
India Red batsmen Abhinav Mukund and Sudip Chatterjee scored centuries on Day Two and even those who failed said it was a new challenge they can surmount.
India Green opener Robin Uthappa said on Wednesday: “We have to give it time. Everything changes. Play starts late and you end very late. Once you play this format, you will get used to it. There has been a lot of night cricket with T20 and one-day, so I feel once we play this format on a regular basis we will get used to it. Lot of preparation happens but we don’t quite know how to prepare yet. The more we play the more we will understand how to play in this format.”
The biggest issue was sighting the pink ball. With the Greater Noida stadium not having the best of outfields, wear and tear of the ball could have made it difficult to pick. But the former India player said: “Spotting the ball is not an issue. But the ball changes colour when the light changes. Towards evening it becomes kind of orange but again in the night it becomes pink. Some players feel the ball dips on them and that is a factor.”
NO REVERSE SWING
Though the India Green opener was out for duck on Day One, bowled off a sharp inswinger by Rajasthan seamer Nathu Singh, he said one doesn’t really have to unlearn everything in batting. “Once we see off the new ball, that period is simple as the ball doesn’t do much. It’s not a ball that we work with as far as shine is concerned. We tried shining the ball but not much is happening. However, it is early to say anything,” said Uthappa.
Since the ball does not lose shine, it does not get old soon. And if maintained well, reverse swing, unlike the red ball, is out of the question. Reverse is possible when one side of the ball is left to become rough. However, the pink ball has a strong coat that doesn’t wear off easily. “We tried to get it to reverse but it didn’t,” said Uthappa.
The Kookaburra Turf ball being used in the Duleep Trophy stays hard and hence the fast bowlers managed to pick wickets with short-pitched deliveries. Pacers Sandeep Sharma and Ashoke Dinda both picked wickets in the first innings off short-pitched deliveries.
DIP AND DRIFT
However, spinners Kuldeep Yadav, Shreyas Gopal and Pragyan Ojha have been able to obtain less turn but plenty of drift.
Suresh Raina, the India Green skipper, was dismissed by a flighted delivery from Yadav, a lefft-arm Chinaman bowler. He was beaten by the dip as he tried to play it on the full. On Day three, Gurkeerat Mann was stumped off a flighted delivery off leg spinner Gopal, which again dipped and turned. “There has been dip, the ball has been turning a bit for the spinners. I do not really understand why,” said Uthappa.
Yadav said: “It was challenging for the spinners. The shine of the ball is maintained so it skids more and dips on the batsmen. I got drift because of that, but it was difficult to turn the ball. On Day Two, the wicket had started to turn so spinners had a better chance (to take wickets) but as long as the ball is hard, it will be difficult to extract turn,” said Yadav.