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Ind-B’desh Day-Night Test: 5 Big Concerns Regarding the Pink Ball

5 factors that could prove challenging in the Day-Night Test featuring India and Bangladesh.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya

11 Day-Night tests have been played to date and in them, 257 wickets were taken by fast bowlers, while spinners claimed just 95. That stat alone gives one a fair estimate of why Ashwin and Jadeja are in focus as India get ready to host their first-ever day-night Test in Kolkata.

But what is different about the game apart from it beginning at 1 pm? Why are the pacers expected to be the busiest, but not so much Shami? Why is the second session going to be the ‘new opening session’?

Here are the 5 big areas of concern regarding the Day-night Test

1. The Pink Ball

The pink ball is being used in the day-night Test to aid visibility but Cheteshwar Pujara, who played the Duleep Trophy when India first used the pink ball in domestic cricket, still feels it will take some time before players can fully get accustomed to spotting the ball in changing light.

"In the twilight period, I feel that maybe, sighting the ball could be a little challenging. (But) the more you play, you get used to it," he said before the start of the Test series.

Pujara, however, and more importantly isn't the only Team India player who has pink ball experience. Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Wriddhiman Saha have all played domestic matches with the pink ball. Bangladesh, however, have no players with any pink-ball experience.

2. The Lacquer on the Ball

Now to the attributes of the ball. What’s right on top is what’s being discussed the most as well.

The lacquer that provides the shine also helps protect the ball’s colour and is expected to help the pink ball swing more than the red one.

“I felt like it swings a lot more compared to the red ball because there’s extra lacquer on the ball and it doesn’t go away too fast and the seam holds upright quite a bit,”
Virat Kohli

There’s also the fact that because the protective lacquer on the ball needs to be, well, protected, the pitch and even the outfield will see a lot more grass so as to avoid it getting scratched and discoloured. Which, again, is a bonus for the fast bowlers.

“There is a certain amount of grass which has to be left so that the ball can sustain 90 overs and sustain the entire duration of play. That’s the challenge for the opening batsmen because the wicket will still be fresh. Even though it’s a 2 o clock, the wickets will be under cove.”
VVS Laxman on Star Sports’ show ‘Game Plan’
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3. No Reverse Swing?

Now to the Shami factor. Reverse swing is being discussed a lot in context of the pink ball. Or actually, the expected lack of reverse swing.

For Shami to use reverse swing, the ball needs to be relatively older. But this SG ball has lacquer on it which protects it from exactly that. Which means India’s ace bowler may not come into the picture as often as he did in Indore.

A BCCI official, though, told IANS that this might not be the case. "The pinks balls prepared have all been hand stitched as that increases the chances of the ball aiding reverse swing. Shouldn't be a problem to get the pink cherry to reverse," he said.

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4. No Aid for Spinners

Bangladesh spin bowling coach was quite candid on the ball and his spinners’ effectiveness in the match. ‘If I recall correctly, the spinners haven’t come into play that much. It has been about the seam bowlers,” he said on the sidelines of the team’s first practice session at Eden Gardens.

With only 26% of wickets in the 11 day-night Tests played to date going in the spinners’ kitty there’s a thing or two to worry about. There’s also the fact that in Kolkata dew is going to factor in a lot earlier than in other day-night matches because the sun will set by half-day’s play. More dew would mean the ball gets softer which, in turn, will prove problematic for Ashwin and Jadeja.

“Dew will be a challenging factor because even in one-day games during second innings the spinner has struggled to bowl, so during the Test, if the ball is wet and the seam is flat it will be difficult for them to grip the ball.”
VVS Laxman on Star Sports’ show ‘Game Plan’

There are some positives though. The third-highest wicket taker in day-night Tests is Pakistani spinner Yasir Shah, and West Indies’ spinner Devendra Bishoo, in fact, has the best bowling figures in day-night Tests – an 8/49 against Pakistan.

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5. The Twilight Hour

Shami and Saha have both talked about how the second half of the second session each day will be key.

"The middle session should be the main focus for batsman while using the pink ball unlike the morning session that is usually considered the most important in a Test match as it will have more of a swing in Eden Gardens," Shami said.

While Saha pointed out something that will affect the slips and the keeper – the extra coating of lacquer is expected to make the ball wobble more, which could be a problem when the lights are changing during twilight.

“Batsmen tend to leave the ball the most in Test matches. If it is challenging for slips, it is for me as well as I stand beside them. The ball wobbles as our pacers bowl. That could be a factor but I have to accept the challenges. We are professionals.”
Mohammed Shami

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