KOLKATA: Skipper Virat Kohli said on Thursday he welcomed the ‘buzz’ around India’s grand day-night Test debut but said pink-ball matches should not become a regular occurrence.
India begin their pink-ball journey against Bangladesh on Friday at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, with the first four days sold out, contrasting with daytime Tests in India when crowds are often sparse.
“This can be a one-off thing. It should not in my opinion become a regular scenario, because then you are losing out on that nervousness of the first session in the morning,” Kohli told reporters. “The entertainment of Test cricket lies in the fact that the batsman is trying to survive a session and the bowler trying to get a batsman out.”
But he added: “It’s great to create more buzz around Test cricket.”
Day-night Tests, aimed at increasing crowds and TV audiences for the longer format, were successfully introduced in 2015 when Australia played New Zealand in Adelaide.
England, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies have all played at least one day-night Test.
But until now, India have kept away, with its cricket board last year refusing to play a day-night Test in Adelaide.
“Obviously, we wanted to get a feel of pink-ball cricket. Eventually it had to happen,” said Kohli.
India lead the two-match series 1-0 after thrashing Bangladesh at Indore inside three days — to largely empty stands.
A striking spectacle is planned for the start of the Test on Friday — it is also Bangladesh’s pink-ball debut — with Bangladesh prime minister and the local state chief minister set to begin proceedings by ringing the stadium bell.
Kohli said the occasion reminded him of the 2016 World Twenty20 clash with arch-rivals Pakistan at Eden Gardens, which witnessed a host of big names in attendance including Imran Khan, former cricket captain and now Pakistan’s prime minister.
India’s star batsman said that he found a few challenges facing the pink ball compared with the red ball used in regular daytime Tests.
“The one thing that surprised me was the fielding sessions. How in the slips the ball hit your hand so hard, it almost felt like a heavy hockey ball,” Kohli said. “It really felt like that on the hand and it’s definitely because of the extra glaze of the ball. It’s definitely much harder, and it felt a little heavier.”
Kohli also said evening moisture will play a big part in Indian conditions despite the game scheduled to run from 1:00pm to 8:00pm (0700 to 1430 GMT).
“Spoke to the [ICC] match referee yesterday. It’s something we’ll have to speak about and discuss as we go along in the game. You can’t really predict how much mopping or how much cleaning of the dew is required at which stage.”
Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque said the biggest challenge would be to play the pink ball under lights.
“The glaze of the ball under the light may make it tricky for the batsmen,” Mominul told reporters. “Fielders will also find it challenging. Skill-wise, batsmen must be focused 100 percent each and every ball.”
INDIA: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill,
BANGLADESH: Shadman Islam, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque (captain), Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Ebadat Hossain, Saif Hassan, Mosaddek Hossain, Nayeem Hasan, Al-Amin Hossain.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Rod Tucker (Australia).
TV umpire: Joel Wilson (West Indies).
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2019