To keep Test cricket in the “pink of health”, India is set to lock horns with Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday in their maiden day-night Test. The pink ball is finally set to make its first appearance in an international Test match in India and the buzz around the match has only escalated ever since BCCI president Sourav Ganguly pushed forward the idea and got Virat Kohli on board on only his second day into his new role. Ganguly has claimed Kohli agreed to play the day-night game within “three seconds”.
Moreover, this is the first time that SG pink balls will be used in an international match. All the other 11 day-night Tests have been played with the Australian made Kookaburra pink ball.
The curiosity ahead of the match was not only palpable among fans but among players as well. Will the dew play a factor? Will the new pink ball aid reverse swing? How will be the visibility of the ball? Will the pink ball last a full session like its red counterpart? The answer will only be clear when the match begins on Friday.
Pink ball Test: Everything you need to know
When will the India vs Bangladesh pink ball test match begin?
The toss is scheduled at 12.30 pm, and the match will start half an hour later at 1 pm. The lunch break will last 40 minutes between 3 pm and 3.40 pm, and tea break, spanning 20 minutes, is from 5.40 pm to 6 pm. The final session will be held between 6 pm to 8 pm.
India’s star cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev are expected to be present during the country’s first-ever day-night match.
Besides, a host of sporting stars including star shuttler P V Sindhu, chess ace Viswanathan Anand and tennis sensation Sania Mirza are expected to grace the occasion.
How has the Kolkata pitch been prepared for the pink ball Test?
For the pink ball to maintain its bright colour, the pitch needs more grass cover than the usual. According to espncricinfo, Sujan Mukherjee, the head groundsman at Eden Gardens, said he would maintain a 6mm grass cover to help maintain the pink ball’s sheen for as long as possible.
Since visibility is the top-most priority while playing with the pink ball, the ground staff have to ensure the ball does not get greyish or dirty easily. Hence, there will be generous grass cover on both the pitch and the outfield.
Since the final session will be played in the evening, won’t dew be a factor?
With winter setting in, dew is expected to play a huge role. While the exact effect of dew can be gauged only when the match starts, the ground staff has already stopped watering the outfield a few days ahead of the match. Gripping the ball becomes an issue if there is a lot of dew, especially for the spinners. Players have reported that with dew around the ball becomes like a bar of soap.
The Eden Gardens pitch curator has said the dew has been “manageable” so far, in the lead up to the match. He also started using anti-dew spray from the beginning of the week.
When was the first pink ball match played?
The first pink ball match was played between England and Australia women’s team in 2009. The Pakistan cricket board trialled an orange ball in the 2010-11 final of their first-class tournament — the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. In 2014, an entire round of Sheffield Shield matches in Australia were played with the pink Kookaburra ball.
The first-ever international Day/Night Test was played between Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval in November 2015. However, the match failed to bolster the credentials of the pink ball as it ended inside 3 days with none of the sides crossing the 250-run mark. Josh Hazlewood picked up six wickets.
Since then, 10 Day/Night matches have been played in total. Australia is the most successful side so far in pink ball cricket, winning all their five games. Sri Lanka is the second-most successful, with two wins out of three. England, South Africa and New Zealand have won one pink ball Test each.
India had earlier experimented with the pink ball during a Duleep Trophy game in 2016. The Cricket Association of Bengal had also tried out a day-night Test match with the pink ball in the final of the local Super League tournament where the likes of Mohammad Shami and Wriddiman Saha starred.
In the 11 Day/Night Tests with the pink ball, 257 wickets have been taken by the fast bowlers. The spinners could only manage to take 95.
What was the need for day-night Test matches?
The idea of day-night Test matches was initially mooted in the late 2000s due to low turnout and dwindling viewership for Test matches. With the advent of T20 and various franchise-based leagues mushrooming across the globe, Test matches were losing popularity.
Day-night Tests allow part of the game to be aired at primetime and also allow people to attend the evening session after work. Australia, the only country to fully adopt the pink ball and the only team to have played five pink ball Test matches, has so far reported excellent viewership numbers for day-night Tests.
What is the difference between red, white and pink ball?
While the shine on a new red ball lasts for roughly around 60-70 minutes, for a new pink ball it can last well over a session. That’s why the pink ball aids the fast bowlers rather than the spinners.
The seam of the pink ball is stitched with a black thread as opposed to the white on a red ball. Keeping the dew in mind, the seam of the pink ball is kept more prominent in a pink ball. Moreover, the pink ball has an extra coating of lacquer that provides the shiny look.
Coming to the pricing of the different balls, the SG pink ball is priced at Rs 2,700 — way cheaper than its Kookaburra counterpart that is priced at Rs 8,000. The SG red ball, which is used for day Test matches, costs about Rs 1,300. For One-day matches, India uses the Kookaburra white ball, which costs around Rs 12,000.
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