Pink ball made its debut in India’s domestic cricket and lured the batsmen into playing a brand that would appear horrific to old timers familiar with the Duleep Trophy. While doubts were raised on the eve of the match if spotting the ball would be an ordeal, some of the young 'aspirants' chose to spurn the opportunity to make an impression with their prowess at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Stadium here on Tuesday.
The batsmen showed intent of playing some ludicrous shots after India Red skipper Yuvraj Singh opted to bat. The seam of the Kookaburra ball may not have been prominently visible to the naked eye, but India Red conspired to invite ridicule and lament as the innings folded up for 161 in 48.2 overs.
Read:>Floodlight failure mars India's pink ball debut
However, three floodlight towers lost their glimmer twice, first during the dinner break and then in the last session. At the end of the extended play, India Green was 116 for seven in 35 overs.
Cross-batted shots were the order of the afternoon with the exception of the immensely disciplined Abhinav Mukund. Having earned a spot in the India Red squad the talented K. Bharat from Andhra attempted an uncharacteristic, but disastrous pull. K. B. Arun Karthik incredibly slogged an innocuous ball. The trend that Bharat set trickled down to the opposition too where a senior like Suresh Raina was guilty of throwing his wicket after looking good for a big score.
The pre-match apprehensions regarding the pitch and the ball were allayed as the day progressed and dusk descended. The grass on the pitch was a mandated requirement to help the ball retain its gloss longer than usual. The pitch played its part spiritedly. The ball tended to stop, but it hustled through too. The bounce remained even, to the relief of the batsmen, and left-arm Pragyan Ojha managed to extract turn, even if minimal, to beat a well-set Mukund, who inner-edged the ball onto his pads and finally the stumps.
On a pitch where the ball stopped initially it was a pleasant surprise to see Mukund guide it to third man. The ball sped to the boundary. It meant there were runs to be made if the batsmen were prepared to adopt the Mukund way. He played the ball and 'left' it too, just the way a traditionalist would.
“The ball was holding and gripping but I could time my shots,” said Mukund. But he was let down by his partners.
Yuvraj picked the man at square leg with a firm flick. Akshay Wakhare did the same. The agile fielder in both the instances was Rajat Paliwal, who later blotted his show with a reckless flick off a middle-stump delivery. Misplaced aggressive attempts showed India Red in poor light but Mukund's was a standout performance with a 116-ball 77 that contained 12 fours.
Punjab seamer Sandeep Sharma came out flying with his restrained effort. He likes to bowl within limitations and did not stretch to bounce the ball or work up pace. Ankit Rajpoot looked menacing and Ojha, replacement for Harbhajan Singh, was impressive too with his line.
“We were told the grass may not help spinners but the ball was gripping and I could turn some balls,” Ojha said.
The bowlers’ dominance was completed through a lively spells by Nathu Singh and left-arm Kuldeep Yadav, who rocked India Green as it faltered under floodlights. Raina promised to carry the India Green innings, but shockingly stepped out and stood stranded, beaten in the air and off the pitch. His team just about survived the session on a bowlers’ day out.
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