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Monday, November 25, 2019

Cricket: The First Ever Pink Ball Test A Superhit? And India’s Got Pacers!


Photo: indiatoday.in
Indian cricket fans crowding the Eden Gardens stadium reportedly encouraged Bangladesh players to try prolong the first ever Pink Test a little more; because it was all over in two days and 47 minutes frustrating the general expectation that the match would last at least three days. 45-60 thousand spectators thronged the stadium on the first two days each and even on the third morning when it was apparently clear that India would wrap up the match any moment more than 25000 were present. Such attendance is unprecedented for a five-day Test match ever played in India. Therefore, in terms of pulling people from all strata of society to the stadium the first ever D/N Pink Test is a superhit. However, in Kolkata, the Mecca of Indian Cricket with the famous Eden, enthusiastic crowds are always there for at least two kinds of sports—football and cricket. Given that, one cannot still take away the ‘superhit’ tag, and the fact that the match made Sourav Ganguly, BCCI President, the happiest person on earth whose decision it was to host the event and who said afterwards that more D/N Tests would be played across different centres in India, and if conditions are met India would definitely play Pink Ball Tests against Australia in Australia. A good beginning or history is thus made, and it seems to augur well for the classical format of the game.

The scenario is a little different in terms of competition. It was an overwhelmingly one-sided match in favor of India who registered their fourth consecutive innings victory—the 7th Test win on the trot—and it was the shortest ever domestic Test played. India swamped Bangladesh 2-0 in the series, both being innings victories. This one-sidedness somewhat poured icy water on the hot suspense built over the behaviour of the pink ball. It’d take more competition to show its true colors; for example, a Pink Test against Australia or England or New Zealand would bring out the real test for the pink ball under floodlights in India. At the moment it can be said that the pink ball seems to be more lethal than the red ball when the ball is new. The much speculated ‘twilight’ behaviour of the pink ball is yet to be confirmed; India batsmen didn’t show any palpable discomfort during such a period and Bangladesh counterparts fared miserably in all sessions—day, twilight or night.

One redeeming feature of Indian cricket that has been emerging in the last 2 years or so gets highlighted again, and in view of this writer it could spell a paradigm shift of focus in near future. It’s, of course, the Indian pacers or genuine fast bowlers who have started taking more wickets even on Indian so-called slow pitches. The Pink Ball Test was played without the services of Jasprit Bumrah, considered to be the best, and yet he Indian pace-battery of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav destroyed Bangladesh in both the Tests sharing almost all the wickets between them. The second Test becomes the first ever domestic Test where the spinners failed to take a single wicket while in the first Test R Ashwin managed 5 wickets—2 in the first innings and 3 in the second. Ishant Sharma bagged the Player-of-the-Series award—a rare feat considering the fact that on most occasions the Indian class batsmen or spinners at times used to get the honors, and in spite of a brilliant Virat Kohli notching up his 27th Test century in this particular match. Several international cricket experts have praised the Indian pace attack calling it the best at the moment. More significantly, green-top pitches are being prepared nowadays in India which sounds incredible considering the long-standing trend of preparing ‘turning’ pitches for domestic Test series. Sourav Ganguly who reportedly sat out of a Test against South Africa in Nagpur once when a green pitch emerged in spite of his specific instructions now promises to lead this ‘paradigm shift’. This augurs very well for Indian Cricket, and the already-bettered away performances stand to improve further.


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