Updated: February 24, 2021 12:53:22 pm
An abrasive pitch, spinners holding sway, batsmen having to dig deep to score runs and fast bowlers being mute spectators, barring the odd occasion when a scuffed up SG red ball began to aid reverse swing. The MA Chidambaram Stadium, venue for the first two Tests between India and England, typified how long-form cricket is traditionally played in the sub-continent. Now, as the two teams undertake a 1400km journey from Chennai to Ahmedabad, neither the conditions nor the colour of the ball will be similar.
The third Test, which will be staged at the refurbished Motera, will be a Day/Night affair, featuring a pink ball. So don’t be surprised if you see ample grass cover on the pitch that will help fast bowlers play a more dominant role than spinners. Batsmen will have to take extra care while negotiating the tricky twilight period. Here’s why Motera will witness a different ball game compared to Chepauk.
Ind vs Eng: Since it’s a Day/Night match, will it be a late start?
Yes, it will not be a traditional 9.30am start. This Test is scheduled to begin at 2.30pm, with the final session extending upto 9pm.
How is the pink ball different from the traditional red ball?
Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), the Meerut-based ball manufacturer is the official supplier to the BCCI for international and domestic matches. The SG pink ball’s seam is hand-stitched with a black thread, while the red ball has a white seam. Since they are hand-stitched, the seam is a bit more pronounced compared to the Kookaburra variety and does not go out of shape that easily. It has an equal mix of synthetic and linen, while the seam on the red ball is purely synthetic. The pink ball also has a generous amount of lacquer used during manufacturing. “This is done to brighten the colour and improve visibility under floodlights. The extra lacquer is used to aid swing and protect it from wear and tear,” Paras Anand, SG marketing director, told the Indian Express.
Will the pink ball offer assistance to pacers?
There’s little doubt that the pink ball will swing prodigiously and zip off the wicket in the beginning because the lacquer won’t come off easily. In the previous Day/Night duel featuring India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens, Indian pacers — Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav accounted for 19 of the 20 Bangladesh wickets. Such was their dominance that the two Indian spinners — R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled only seven overs between themselves.
What are some of the concerns with the pink ball?
Some players have said that sighting the SG pink ball under lights was an issue. Cheteshwar Pujara, after the Kolkata Test conceded that batsmen have to try harder to adjust to the colour of the ball. “You have to concentrate a little extra and spend a little bit more time at the crease to get used to it. When it comes to the red ball, visibility isn’t an issue at all during the day,” Pujara told the Indian Express. “But with a pink ball under lights, when you walk in to bat during the second or the third session, visibility can be a bit of a problem as you are sitting in the dressing room and suddenly you are walking in under lights.” Another obvious concern voiced by fast bowlers is that the pink ball does not aid reverse swing. Since the SG ball maintains its shine, it hinders reverse swing, a major weapon for pacers in sub-continent conditions.
What will be the nature of the pitch?
It’s too early to predict. Since it will be played with a pink ball, expect ample grass cover. Adelaide Oval, which has traditionally been hosting Day/Night Tests since 2015, keeps as much 11m grass. Eden Gardens, which hosted India’s first-ever pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in November 2019 had upto 6mm live grass on the strip. The extra grass cover will help in conventional swing and seam.
Will dew be a deterrent?
In February, dew could be a factor in Ahmedabad. In such a scenario, the wet ball will become heavy and will not assist swing and seam movement for pacers. Spinners will also find it difficult to grip the ball.
Will the twilight period pose a challenge to batsmen?
Before every Day/Night Test, discussion generally veers towards batting in the twilight — the first hour’s play in the third session when artificial light sets it. This is the period that batsmen dread and pacers relish since the pink ball tends to hoop around a bit more.
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