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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Day-night Tests the way forward despite dew factor, feel experts

Virat Kohli & Co are set to play India’s first-ever day-night Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata, and while it has managed to spark fan interest in countries like Australia, it will head into uncharted territory in India from November 22.

cricket Updated: Nov 06, 2019 08:41 IST
Rutvick Mehta
Rutvick Mehta
File image of Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
File image of Eden Gardens in Kolkata. (PTI)

Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar said on Tuesday that while he was optimistic about day-night Tests reviving the longest format in India, the challenge for the players will be to cope with external factors such as dew.

Virat Kohli & Co are set to play India’s first-ever day-night Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata, and while it has managed to spark fan interest in countries like Australia, it will head into uncharted territory in India from November 22.

“It is good to start something new. We saw in Australia how hugely successful it (day-night Tests) was, so I am sure, people of India too will lap it up. It is a good way to revive Test cricket and get the crowds back in,” Vengsarkar said on the sidelines of the launch of the book, Wizards: The story of Indian spin bowling, here on Tuesday. “Of course, there will be the dew factor. So we will have to wait and see how that goes,” the legendary batsman added.

The current India team has been a dominant force at home, with its spinners running through opposition batting line-ups even with the slightest help from the wicket. And while the red ball tends to scruff up pretty quickly in dry Indian conditions, it remains to be seen how the pink ball behaves in assisting the Indian tweakers under lights.

Former India left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi—who was also present at the launch along with Padmakar Shivalkar—reckoned that while dew cannot be controlled, the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav will have to make minor adjustments to how they grip the pink ball.

“You need to make subtle changes in your bowling. It is all about gripping the ball right. You have to find the optimum level of how tight or loose you have to grip the ball. I think it should be more firmly gripped, so that you can impart more spin on the ball,” Doshi, who picked up 114 wickets in 33 Tests, said.

The Rajkot-born Doshi, who played most of his domestic cricket for Bengal, said that day-night Test comes as a hope to keep the game’s traditional format alive, with the recent India-South Africa series attracting sparse crowds.

“Everything needs to be marketed well today, and day-night Tests will bring the crowds back to the ground. Test cricket should not die because if that is dead, cricket will be dead. Tests is the diet without which cricket cannot survive,” Doshi said.

Doshi also lamented the modern-day batsman’s inability to adapt to alien conditions, with most teams the world over finding success at home but struggling overseas. “The advent of T20 has changed the way the game is being played. There is so much of T20 that the mindset is also being transferred into Test cricket. I think the modern batsman is not a patch compared to the Dravids, Gangulys, Laxmans, Tendulkars and Sehwags,” Doshi said.

“Most of the current bastmen do not work on footwork anymore. A lot of the current batsmen use bat-speed and arm-speed to make the ball disapper and that has become the norm in international cricket. That’s why we are not seeing as many quality batsmen as we used to see before. Today, there are great strikers of the ball but not necessarily great batsmen. And that’s why teams are failing to win overseas,” he added.

India-Australia next year

In another promotional event, former Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist is hopeful of India agreeing to play a day-night Test Down Under next year. India were requested to play a day-night Test in Australia during the 2018-19 tour but the visitors had declined the offer.

“They would be in Australia next summer after the T20 World Cup. I expect there will be a day-night Test there. I haven’t heard from Cricket Australia but I expect there would be one,” Glichrist said on the sidelines of an event by Tourism Australia.

“I was a reluctant starter of day-night Tests, but now I can totally see the positive outcome that is going to help Test cricket stay relevant,” he added, referring to his own apprehensions about the pink ball. There have been 11 day-night Tests so far with Australia being involved in five of them. Australia and New Zealand were the first to play the format in 2015.

“There is going to teething issues, particulary in India with dew, working out what series, what venues and it is take a bit of time. I used to be worried about the statistic of the game, can you compare with day-night in twilight to batting in broad day light,” he said.

“It is different. But there was a time we didn’t have covered wickets, helmets, so a lot of things have changed. It is a game that has evolved over time. So whatever it takes to keep it alive, and now I am very supportive of day-night,” the 47-year-old former Australia vice-captain said.