Pink-ball matches: Eventful under lights

The pink ball that made its Test debut in late 2015, featured thrice in the 2016 international calendar. All three matches saw results.

Azhar Ali became the fourth Pakistani to score a triple hundred in Tests. His knock came against the West Indies in the pink ball Test (first in Asia) in Dubai.   -  Getty Images

Australia's not out batsmen Matt Renshaw (second left) and Peter Handscomb are congratulated by teammates at the end of the pink ball Test against South Africa in Adelaide. Australia won the match, while South Africa took the series 2-1.   -  AP

Aussie skipper captain Steve Smith shakes hands with Pakistan's coach Mickey Arthur after Australia's victory in the Brisbane Test. Set an improbable 490, Pakistan almost pulled off a jaw-dropping chase but fell short by 39 runs.   -  AP

The pink ball that made its Test debut in late 2015, featured thrice in the 2016 international calendar. All three matches saw results. Australia, which won the inaugural pink-ball Test against New Zealand, extended its record to 3-0 after victories against South Africa and Pakistan. Pakistan, meanwhile, won the first such Test on Asian soil when it beat West Indies in a thriller in Dubai. Here’s a recap of the three day-night Tests of 2016.

PAKISTAN V WEST INDIES, OCTOBER 13-17, DUBAI

Pakistan’s 400th Test was pink ball’s first on Asian soil. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss to bat on ideal batting conditions in Dubai. Azhar Ali’s triple hundred helped Misbah’s men score 579 in less than two nights. Yasir Shah and company then bowled out the Caribbeans for 357 a few overs into the fourth evening for a 222-run lead. A Pakistani win or a draw, it looked like. But Devendra Bishoo turned the match around with a second-innings eight-wicket haul, dismissing the opposition for 123. West Indies still needed 346 to win the game. And, Mohammad Amir sent back three of its batsmen with less than 100 on board. Darren Bravo resisted with a century even as Pakistan chipped away. He fell in the 95th over and Pakistan cleaned up the tail 14 overs later to win the game.

Highlights:

* Azhar Ali became the fourth Pakistani to score a triple hundred after Hanif Mohammad (337), Inzamam-ul-Haq (329) and Younis Khan (313).

* Devendra Bishoo’s 8-49 overtook Lance Klusenar’s 8-64 (in Eden Gardens in 1996) as the best bowling figures by a visiting bowler in Asia.

* Yasir Shah, in his 17th Test, scalped his 100th Test wicket. George Lohmann, a 19th century English cricketer, was the quickest to reach the mark at 16 Tests.

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AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA, NOVEMBER 24-28, ADELAIDE

Australia, heading into the final Test, had lost the series 2-0. But it had everything to play for. It had to: avoid a first series sweep (involving three or more Tests) at home; justify making five changes to the playing XI; somehow win after five straight defeats. The coin fell in South Africa’s favour and it batted first. Soon it was four down for 95 before skipper Faf du Plessis bailed his team out with an unbeaten 118 and amused everyone with a quirky declaration (at 259 for nine). Australia, like the previous two Tests, seemed to be rattled by the Protean pace as it was 37 for two. But Usman Khawaja’s 145 and half-centuries by Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb helped it get a 124-run lead. Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon shared seven wickets to dismiss South Africa for 250 in the second innings. Australia chased 127 to complete a seven-wicket win.

Highlights:

* Faf du Plessis declared the South African first innings at 250 — its second-lowest first innings total at which the innings was declared.

* Australia avoided its first series whitewash (involving three or more games) at home.

* Australia had five debutants in a Test series since 1981.

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AUSTRALIA V PAKISTAN, DECEMBER 15-19, BRISBANE

After salvaging a win under lights whilst hosting South Africa in the last of a three-Test series, the Aussies began another three-Test series against Pakistan with a thrilling victory under lights. Steve Smith’s new-look side edged out Pakistan on the final day by 39 runs. Set an improbable 490, Pakistan almost pulled off a jaw-dropping chase. But skipper Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb’s hundreds laid the foundation for Australia in the first innings. And the pacers wrecked the Pakistani line-up that could manage only 142. The host then declared at 202 for five before one of the most eventful chases in the history of Tests played out in the Gabba.

Highlights:

* Pakistan’s 450 was the fourth highest fourth innings total in Tests.

* Australia, for a while, was perilously close to its first defeat at the Gabba since 1988. It has won 22 Tests and drawn eight since then.

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PINK BALL IN INDIA

India experimented with the pink-ball during a Bengal club game in which >Mohun Bagan beat arch-rival Bhowanipore Cricket Club in three days. The pink ball was also used in Duleep Trophy matches in Greater Noida. India, however, is unconvinced about using it in Tests.

"It is too early to say anything [about pink ball]. As far as trying it in Duleep Trophy under lights is concerned, it was a big success. But you need to look at overall picture before you take the final call," BCCI president Anurag Thakur said in September.

"I think we need to look into many areas before we take the final call. I would like to go into details in a scientific manner to take the final call."