India vs Bangladesh: Multi shades of the pink ball - Characteristics explained

While Kookaburra and Dukes balls have been used so far in the day/night affairs, including the 2016-17 Duleep Trophy where the former was tried, this will be the first time that pink SG balls will be used in a Test.
The main difference between the red ball and the pink variant is the way the leather is processed.(BCCI)
The main difference between the red ball and the pink variant is the way the leather is processed.(BCCI)
Updated on Jul 27, 2020 06:21 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbhishek Paul

When the ball (a shiny pink one that is) gets rolling at the Eden Gardens on Friday afternoon for the second India-Bangladesh Test, it will be a new sight on the Indian soil. Once averse to playing day/night Tests, the change of stance has been stark as the current BCCI administration has gone on an overdrive to commemorate the occasion.

Before India and Bangladesh, 10 teams have already had their tryst with the pink ball. Yet, the late entry of the two teams will have some firsts. While Kookaburra and Dukes balls have been used so far in the day/night affairs, including the 2016-17 Duleep Trophy where the former was tried, this will be the first time that pink SG balls will be used in a Test.

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Apart from Virat Kohli’s men in whites strutting on a floodlit Eden Gardens turf, the behaviour of the pink balls will be equally intriguing. Hindustan Times caught up with Paras Anand, director of SG (producers of the pink balls) to get a better idea.

Here’s an explainer on the nuances of the pink ball.

How is the pink ball different from the red

The main difference between the red ball and the pink variant is the way the leather is processed. The red ball has dyed leather, on which some processes are done for shining the ball. In the pink one, the colour is because of a pigment with which the leather is coated. In the ‘traditional’ ball, the red colour is absorbed by the leather, whereas the pink ball has a paint like the ones on a car. It’s like a pigmented coat on top of the leather.

How will it affect the game

In the red one, one can ‘prepare’ the ball over a period of 20-25-30 overs—start shining one side and leave the other side rough, so the bowlers are able to get that reverse swing later in the innings. In the pink ball, because of the extra coat of pigment and lacquer it will swing initially when the ball is new. But later on getting reverse swing will depend on the roughness of the ground.

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How long can the shine last

The technology that was there probably two to three years ago, the shine was not lasting a lot but now it shall last pretty much the entire distance for about 80 overs.

What about bounce

The latest version of SG ball has a pronounced seam. It was used in the series against South Africa and had a greater bounce. The pacers made merry. The same pronounced seam will be there in the pink ball that will be used in the Kolkata Test. So bounce will be there.

What about used balls in case the original ball gets damaged?

That will be done by the BCCI. They will create the library. That process has already started. The organisers have been given around 70 odd balls.

Where have SG balls been used before?

It has been used in Division 1 games, club games. We have tested the pink balls rigorously in difficult conditions where the pitches were really hard and the ground was really rough.

Everybody is asking what will happen if it is used in Test match. What I am saying is that in a club level match the conditions are far tougher for a ball than in Test match. The wicket will be better and the ground will be lush green. And in a Test match the ball is looked after by the players, they try to maintain the shine of the ball. So, we are keeping our fingers crossed but we are positive that it will play out well.

What about the price of the pink balls?

The difference is not significant. It’s similar to the white ball because white is slightly more premium. White ball takes more effort to create. Pink is same as the white.

Will it behave similarly on Indian surfaces as it did in Australia or England?

From whatever little communication we have had, we understand that they are going to prepare a pitch where there will be support for the ball. And we saw that in the South Africa series. We saw the last time South Africa visited India (2015-16), the ball was turning after the first session. Now pitches have improved. We are positive that the pitches will support the pink ball.

Will hardness be an issue?

Yes we have worked on it. We have made some changes in the product. The pink ball which will be used in Kolkata will be latest version.

Pink balls have shown the tendency to help the bowlers in the twilight period?

The reason for that is very similar to what happens when there is an overcast condition. Overcast condition affects the game. The ball swings more than they normally do.

Will it pose extra challenge for first-time users?

The pink balls were provided to the Indian and the Bangladesh teams before the first Test in Indore. The teams have had some practice under floodlights.

Watch: From factory to field: Journey of the pink ball

 

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Monday, December 06, 2021