IT’S 2 in the afternoon and the heat and the energy-sapping humidity is just unforgiving. However, the Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Complex in Greater Noida is abuzz with activity. Braving the cruel August heat are the members of the ground staff, who are at the pavilion end of this picturesque ground, busy setting up the gigantic white sight screen in order. Not far away, security guards are trying their best to keep the curious fans and onlookers at bay. The reason: Yuvraj Singh, is in the middle of an intense net session. Replete with a swanky new dressing room and a plush media centre, domestic cricket’s newest venue is ready to take it’s sternest test yet. That’s because in less than 24 hours, the venue will be hosting the first of the four Day/Night Duleep Trophy games featuring the pink ball.
Ever since the first D/N Test match was played between Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval, the topic of the pink ball has been a widely debated topic in the cricketing fraternity. This is cricket’s giant leap into the unknown.
The pink ball has already made it’s debut on the Indian domestic circuit in June this year during the CAB Super league final between Mohun Bagan and the Bhowanipore Club at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. But on the eve of the first Duleep Trophy game between India Green and India Red, led by Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh respectively, the curiosity and the excitement is fairly palpable.
Delhi’s hard-hitting middle-order batsman Nitish Rana, who will be playing under Yuvraj, is excited. However, the excitement is fiercely guarded with a tinge of fear — the fear of the unknown. “Excited hoon…lekin kuch maloom nahi kya hone wala hain,” the 23-year-old said.
Everyone else, from the curators to the BCCI’s technical crew members, all seems to be concurring to Rana’s views. There are a lot of issues regarding how the pink ball would behave, especially under lights. It’s durability — whether it will last the full 80 overs, and how the pitch needs to be doctored to make it a fair playing ground for bowlers and the batters. To address the issue of durability, the makers (Kookaburra) have altered the colour of the seam to black, like the ones that were used at the Sheffield Shield competition in Australia last season.
“I will be in a better position to talk about the durability of the pink ball, and whether it is the way ahead for Indian cricket only after I see two full games of the current Duleep Trophy tournament,” says W. Raman, the India Green coach. Raman reckons a clearer picture will emerge only after Day/Night matches with the pink ball is played during winters — the time when the dew factor sets in India.
“Cricket is essentially a winter game, and this is the time of the year, when dew sets in the evening. So in essence, it will be interesting to note how the pink ball will behave under lights after factoring in the dew,” he says.