Virat Kohli on day-night Test: Fielding will be challenging

Ahead of the historic second Test against Bangladesh, India captain Kohli says the pink ball is a little heavy and it is flying faster than a red ball.

Virat Kohli taking catches during a practice session, ahead of the day and night Test cricket match at the Eden Gardens.   -  K.R.Deepak

Team India is trying to have the best of two worlds for its maiden pink ball day-night Test against Bangladesh. The players had an intense fielding session on Wednesday evening under lights, and they returned the next day morning to get a feel of training under the sun. The colour and the shape of the ball, with extra lacquer, will test the players’ skill sets. The strategies and decision-making need to be solid as the game progresses from noon to evening.

India captain Virat Kohli reasoned that the pink ball will throw challenges throughout the game if one isn’t used to it. “In the longer format, the ball [anyway] does a lot more. Add not having visibility or the ability to pick the colour makes it even more difficult.

“You need to have the idea of the off-stump. Yesterday, when we practised, we felt the ball could be closer to you but it is actually not that close. It felt like a synthetic ball for the glaze. It is a lot more harder. It feels a little heavy and even the throws took a lot more effort than the red ball to reach the ‘keeper. During the day, the high catches will be difficult. While catching the ball, it felt like white ball in the afternoon. You don’t know how far the ball is and then it hits your hand quickly, it is also flying fast. The extra glaze is making it travel fast,” he said.

Kohli wants to handle the dew factor on the job. “We can’t predict right now. You never know when the dew is going to arrive. We have to play it as it comes and manage it in the best way possible. That’s the only difference of playing a day-night Test in India.”

Saying ‘yes’ to pink ball

India had refused to play a day-night Test in Adelaide in 2018 citing lack of experience. But as soon as Sourav Ganguly took over as the president of the BCCI, he convinced Kohli for a pink ball match.

The change in mindset, however, wasn’t a sudden decision. “We have been talking about it for a while, long time before the series started. You can’t say we will play a pink ball Test in a week’s time two days before getting on to a plane. We didn’t think it was logical from that point of view and we needed a bit of preparation. Once you are used to playing it, there is no problem at all. You just need to plan in advance, that [in Australia] was a spontaneous plan.

“The thing was to experience the pink ball Test in our own conditions and see how the ball behaves, and then, going on and playing a pink ball Test anywhere in the world,” Kohli put it straight.

If India is to play more pink ball matches in bilateral tournaments, Kohli wants advance planning and multiple practice sessions. “I think it depends when the Test happens. One can be a normal red ball practice game and then, a pink ball practice game before the pink Test. If it is the second or third Test in the tournament, I would ideally like a break to practice. It can’t be two practice games and the Test is actually the third game.”

Today, Bangladesh is expected to practice from noon to evening to simulate match conditions.