India will host their first-ever pink-ball, day-night Test at Eden Gardens from November 22, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has confirmed. This follows the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) decision to accept the BCCI’s proposal of playing a day/night Test in Kolkata. Bangladesh will play two Tests during their upcoming tour of India apart from three T20 internationals. The Indian Express was first to report that the Eden Test could be a day/night affair. The first Test at Indore will be played from November 14.
“I’m pleased to announce that our long-term partner BCB has graciously agreed to play a day-night Test match. This is the beginning of something special in Indian cricket. It is a priority for the newly-elected office-bearers and members of apex council to take Indian cricket forward. For me, as former captain of India and as the current president of BCCI, Test cricket is of utmost priority and we at BCCI will leave no stone unturned to bring this format back to its feet,” Ganguly stated.
He thanked India captain Virat Kohli and BCB president Nazmul Hassan for their cooperation and added: “In this effort of ours, day-night Test cricket is a huge step forward and we believe it will bring back the crowd into stadiums and a whole lot of young children to the sport.”
BCCI secretary Jay Shah described it as “a great day for Indian cricket” and that the BCCI under its present dispensation would work towards “revolutionizing Test cricket”.
1 pm start expected
According to sources, the match is likely to have a 1 or 1.30pm start and the BCCI will now decide if the pink SG balls would be used for the game or Kookaburra. Pink Kookaburra had been used in the Duleep Trophy but didn’t receive a positive response from the domestic cricketers. The SG pink, on the other hand, is yet to be tried in Indian domestic cricket, although during an interaction with this paper last week, Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) owner Paras Anand had said the company was ready and the SG pink ball could be directly used in a Test without a domestic trial.
The BCCI general manager, cricket operations, Saba Karim will take the matter forward after receiving a communication from the Board president.
Bangladesh players were initially reluctant to play a day/night Test. They start their World Test Championship campaign with the series against India. But the BCB convinced them to look at the bigger picture. “The players haven’t played pink-ball cricket. So naturally they were a tad hesitant. But eventually, as the BCB spoke to them, they saw the bigger picture, an opportunity to be a part of history. Also, they realised that pink-ball, day/night Test is the future. Everyone agreed,” Bangladesh national selector and former captain Habibul Bashar told The Indian Express.
On the face of it, a day-night Test on a grassy pitch – required for pink ball – will give India a big advantage, given the pace attack they have. Also, Bangladesh will be without their two most experienced cricketers – Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan – for different reasons. Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo, however, has preferred to take this as an opportunity.
“As a coach and some of the players or the senior players, we think it’s a great opportunity. I don’t think India played a pink-ball Test before. We haven’t played a pink-ball Test. It’s a massive occasion at Eden Gardens. It will be a new experience for both teams. So we are very excited. It’s going to be a great occasion under lights in Kolkata against one of the best teams of all, probably the best Test team in the world… So we are really looking forward to the challenge. For sure there are some challenges, because we are not going to have a lot of time to prepare with a pink ball. But it’s the same for India,” Domingo said.
He agreed that Test cricket should embrace the changes. “Just the way the game is going, we have got to look at trying new things at certain times. So we are excited about it. We know it’s going to be a big challenge. Like I said, we haven’t done much of it, but sometimes changes are the best thing.”
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) secretary Avishek Dalmiya expressed his delight on Eden Gardens hosting the country’s first day/night Test.
“It’s also great news for all the cricket lovers. Eden has been privy to a lot of history. It would be another feather in its cap,” Avishek said, adding: “CAB would leave no stone unturned to ensure that it is a successful event. The presence of dignitaries and distinguished guests, cultural shows and felicitation of former players would add to the grandeur of the event.”
Ganguly deserves a lot of credit for introducing day-night Tests in India at such short notice. After becoming the BCCI president on October 23, Ganguly made day-night Tests one of his priorities as an antidote to dwindling stadium attendance in the long-form. During his first meeting with Kohli, the newly-elected BCCI president raised the subject and received a positive response from the skipper.
“I must say that Virat Kohli is agreeable to it. There are reports that he doesn’t want to play day-night Tests, which is not the fact. So once the captain of India is agreeable to it, life becomes a lot easier. We will see how we can push it. The game needs to go forward,” Ganguly had said during his felicitation at Eden Gardens last week, adding: “I’m a firm believer in day-night Tests. I don’t know when will that happen. But till the time I am around, I will be pushing for it,” he added.
Daily ticket Rs 50
PTI adds: The CAB is also trying its best to make it a full house in the 68,000-capacity stadium on all the five days by offering a daily ticket starting as low as Rs 50. A final clearance will come from the BCCI in consultation with the broadcasters.
“We will send the tickets for printing as we get the timing confirmation from BCCI and broadcasters. We are planning to bring in school children from the districts and local schools and we don’t want any inconvenience.Ticket denominations will be of Rs 50, 100, 150 on daily basis. We will try our best to pull in as many crowd as possible. We hope it will be a success,” Dalmiya added.