5 Talking Points Ahead of the Maiden Pink Ball Day-night Test of India and Bangladesh
Both teams have not had the taste of pink ball cricket under lights and will step into the unknown as they play their first day-night Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata starting November 22.
Test cricket has traditionally been played with the red ball. When cricket moved to the limited-overs format, coloured clothing was introduced and we began to play at night, there was difficulty in sighting the red ball in the dark and hence, the white cricket ball came into being.
Now, with experiments on for day-night Test cricket, the white ball obviously cannot be used due to the clothing of the players being of the same colour. There were experiments initially with the orange ball and ultimately, pink was approved as the colour of the ball for day-night Tests.
While the leading Test playing nations like Australia and England have already played day-night Tests, it will be the first time that both India and Bangladesh venture into the unknown.
Here are the five major talking points ahead of the maiden pink ball day-night Test of India and Bangladesh:
Beware of the twilight
There is a period of around 30 to 40 minutes when the evening moves into night and the flood lights overpower the natural light. This is the time at which visibility is at its lowest and in the limited day-night matches that have been played, this remains the time when most wickets fall.
This will also bring about a change in strategy by teams. As opposed to the first hour or the last hour of the day, this twilight time will now become the top-priority attacking span for the bowling team.
Additional lacquer means more swing
The pink ball has additional glaze over it as compared to the red Test ball. This is done for the ball to retain its shine for longer periods and hence offer better visibility. If the ball starts to become darker, it becomes more and more difficult for the batsmen to sight and hence extra lacquer is applied over the ball.
As a result of that, the ball shines more and is prone to swinging a lot more as compared to the conventional red ball.
"The lateral movement is big, actually a lot than the red ball," said Indian Test vice captain Ajinkya Rahane after a pink ball practice session.
"Our focus during the practice session was to look into the swing and seam, and also play close to our body. What we found out after the practice session that the pink ball does a lot (more) than the red ball. We have to play slightly late and close to your body," Rahane noted.
Thick grass cover
In order for the ball to not lose its shine, another thing which needs to be ensured is that the square and the entire field is not left bare but has a lush covering of grass. This helps the ball to not get discoloured when rolling in the outfield repeatedly.
This will further lead to two major things. One, the ball will not scuff up quickly and hence reverse swing can be thrown out of the window. Two, the conventional swing will continue for a longer time as the ball will retain its shine for longer periods.
Hence, it will offset some advantage of the Indian pacers - Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in particular - who are great exponents of reverse swing.
The dew factor
While it is welcome that two Test playing nations, India and Bangladesh, are taking their first step towards playing a pink ball Test under lights, the timing of the decision is debatable.
Early winter has set in in India and dew becomes a major factor. More so, the match will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata (east of India) which is already notoriously known for its dew.
Even when the IPL matches are played during the summer here, the ball becomes wet. With the game being played in winter in Kolkata, which is close to the sea shore, dew will be a major factor particularly in the last session - 6 pm to 8 pm. It will be at its peak from 7 pm to around 8:30 pm - in case of the half an hour extension to complete the overs.
Batsmen's technique to be tested
Rohit Sharma has performed really well in his nascent career as a Test opener but one should remember that it was not long ago that a lot of concerns were raised about his technique. If there is a situation when Rohit Sharma's technique against the swinging ball undergoes the sternest test, it will be when he faces the pink ball. It will be a challenge for his opening partner Mayank Agarwal as well.
Bangladesh struggled against the new ball when faced with the Indian pacers. Both their openers, Imrul Kayes and Shadman Islam, got dismissed for 6 runs each in both the innings. With the opening partnership lasting for 6 overs and 5.1 overs in the first and the second innings of the Indore Test, there was clear evidence that they were not picking the swing from the hand and were trying to react after the ball pitched which is obviously a very dangerous ploy.
With the pink ball under lights, when the swing will only be accentuated, it will be interesting to see how the Bangladesh openers tackle the Indian new-ball bowlers and vice versa.
©Cricket World 2019