India vs Bangladesh: Pink dusk before the dawn of day-night

Pink, as the song says, “just goes with the fashion.” Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has said ticket sales have been more than good
Artists rehearse on the eve of the 1st pink-ball day/night cricket test match between Bangladesh and India(PTI)
Artists rehearse on the eve of the 1st pink-ball day/night cricket test match between Bangladesh and India(PTI)
Updated on Nov 22, 2019 09:12 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | By

“Pink, it’s my new obsession.” With that opening line, the Aerosmith song ‘Pink’ dives into pink being the love you “discovah”. Eden and Kolkata already have, going by the interest in the iridescent pink ball and the first day-night Test against Bangladesh, beginning on Friday. A pink balloon sways gently above at Eden, part of the pillars in the upper and lower tiers have been covered in transparent pink cloth and it is the dominant colour in the branding of the electronic scoreboard.

A few floors of an under-construction 62-storey building, the city’s tallest, that looms over the maidan, is lit in pink as is a clock tower in the eastern part of the city.

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Pink, as the song says, “just goes with the fashion.” Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has said ticket sales have been more than good. If proof of that was needed, it could be had in the touts that sidle up as you make your way to Eden past the Mohammedan Sporting Club tent on the maidan.

“The last time Eden had such a buzz was before the India-Pak T20 game (2016 World T20). I think the atmosphere will be similar. It can be daunting, intimidating, but exciting as well,” said Kohli breaking into a smile which sparked the rat-a-tat of shutterbugs. The sentiment was shared by Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque.

“I think the first hour will be very exciting because energy levels will be very high and the public will get what they paid for,” said Kohli.

India could have been part of a similar experience in Australia last season but Kohli explained why they turned that down and agreed to this.

“Eventually it (pink-ball Test) had to happen but you can’t bring up those things before a big tour you are going to. Suddenly, in the schedule there is a pink ball Test when we haven’t even practised with it.

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The thing was to experience the pink ball Test in our own condition first so that you get a hang of how the ball behaves and what is the way to sight the ball then going on to playing pink ball Tests anywhere in the world,” said Kohli before India hit nets on Thursday.

In the news

“This one (the Eden Test), we had been talking about for a while. As you saw, a few guys practised even before the series (against Bangladesh) started. You can’t just, you know, two days before you get on to a plane, say that we are going to play a pink ball Test in a week’s time (in Australia last season). We didn’t think it was logical. It needed a bit of preparation and once you get a hang of it, there is no problem in playing at all.

“You can assign sessions accordingly and plan in advance. I think any change needs to have that much time for it to sink in, settle in and then eventually we are open to doing anything.”

Would that mean India are ready to play Tests under lights away too?

If the preparation is right, said Kohli. If the pink-ball Test is in the middle of a series, Kohli said he would like a bigger break between Tests and a practice game under lights just before it.

If it is the first Test, there should ideally be two practice games, one with a red ball and another with a pink ball, he said. Speaking later, Haque said it would have been ideal had Bangladesh got a practice game before the Test.

“Going forward, we would like to have a practice match before a pink-ball Test,” said Haque.

Back to the second match of the two-Test series where India forged ahead 1-0 inside three days in Indore, winning by an innings and 130 runs.

The challenges

Kohli spoke of the challenges batsmen could face here, saying during training on Wednesday evening, “you felt like the ball could be closer to you when it actually was not that close to the off-stump. So, I think, that channel one will have to be careful.”

Fielding too will be difficult, he said.

“Even with catching the ball…you don’t really know how far the ball is and it hits your hand very quickly. With the red ball and white ball, you catch with an idea of how fast the ball is coming down but with this, if you don’t look at the ball into your palms, it is gone.

“Even in the slips, it was flying pretty fast. I think the extra glaze on the ball is making it travel faster and it hits the hand very hard,” said Kohli. The pink ball felt like a heavy hockey ball, he said.

“Or those synthetic balls we would play with when we were younger. It felt a little heavy; the throws took a lot more effort than the red ball do to reach the keeper. The fielding session for me was far more challenging (than batting). People are going to be surprised how challenging fielding with this ball is going to be,” said Kohli.

Unique to India in the context of playing Tests in the evening is dew, said Kohli.

“I think, the pink ball will do a lot more during foreign tours than it does in India in the second session as well. But these predictions could be totally inaccurate,” said Kohli, going into his 83rd Test in an international career that began in 2008.

“I haven’t played a pink ball match before, so whatever I’m saying can change in a match scenario,” said Haque.

The Bangladesh captain said they are not thinking of an upset but the next few days will show whether heading into uncharted territory has narrowed the difference between the world’s top Test team and one ranked eighth.

Hours of play: First session: 1pm to 3pm. Second session: 3.40pm to 5.40pm. Final session: 6pm to 8pm.


    Dhiman Sarkar is based in Kolkata with over two decades as a sports journalist. He writes mainly on football.

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