All the talk leading up to the Eden Gardens Test match between India and Bangladesh is about the pink ball. Now, that is down to perhaps two things. One, it is a reflection of excitement Indian fans are experiencing ahead of the first day-night Test in the country. Two, it shows how poor Bangladesh were in the first Test.
India overpowered Bangladesh in good batting conditions in the first Test at Indore. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Shami were at their devastating best as the Bangla Tigers were bowled out for 150 and 213 in the first and second innings respectively.
India, on the other hand, piled up 493/6 before declaring their innings. Opener Mayank Agarwal top-scored with a classical 243 and the Bangladesh attack looked pretty pedestrian at most times.
So as the teams head into Kolkata, the spectators are looking forward to watching the day-night Test spectacle more than the deflated Bangladeshi outfit. But the Indian team remains wary of taking their foot off the pedal. That has never been Virat Kohli way.
The gulf in class notwithstanding, the pink ball and the dew factor are being debated feverishly.
The SG pink ball, which many still believe is difficult to sight after sunset, might pose problems to the batsmen especially during the twilight hour. It is expected to move a lot more than the red ball too.
And then there is the dew. One doesn’t see much dew in day games but the impact it has on matches in the shorter formats isn’t a mystery. If there is too much dew, it will make things difficult for bowlers as the ball will become soft. Batting will get easier too.
Kohli not convinced... yet
While a handful of Indian players have pink-ball experience having played three domestic seasons of Duleep Trophy under lights, the Bangladeshi squad would be facing the challenge for the first time.
On the eve of the match, Kohli was curious to see how the experiment will turn out.
“Obviously we wanted to get a feel of pink-ball cricket. Eventually, it had to happen,” Kohli said. “But, you can’t bring up those things before a big tour that you’re going to and suddenly in the schedule, there’s a pink-ball Test, when we haven’t even practiced with the pink ball - we haven’t played any first-class games with pink ball.
Kohli added: “The thing was to experience the pink-ball Test in our own conditions first, so you get the hang of how the ball behaves, what is the way to sight the ball and so on. Then, eventually, going and playing with the pink ball anywhere in the world. So it can’t be a sudden thing. This one, we had been talking about it for a while. As you saw, a few of the guys had been practicing before the series started. So you can’t just, two days before you get on a plane, say ‘play a pink ball Test’ in a week’s time. We didn’t think it was logical from that point of view. It needed a bit of preparation. And once you get a hang of it, once you’re used to playing it, there’s no problem in playing at all.
“We just felt it was more of a spontaneous plan, rather than it being planned over a period of time. Which, I think, any change needs to have that much time for it to sink in, settle in. And then we are open to do anything.”
So far, the build-up to the Test has been smooth. A sellout crowd for the first four days has been managed, something that has been the primary goal of playing the traditional format under lights.
Amid all the hype, there is also the small matter of India bracing up for a 12th successive home Test series victory.
Already at the top of the World Test Championship standings, India would look to consolidate their position after another series victory.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddiman Saha (wk),Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Kuldeep Yadav and Shubman Gill.
Bangladesh: Mominul Haque (c), Liton Das (wk), Mehidy Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Al-Amin Hossain, Ebadot Hossain, Mossadek Hossain, Shadman Islam, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman.
Match starts: 1pm IST.