Entertainment was at a premium as the pink ball held sway in the battle between Red and Green, as domestic cricket opened for the season with the Duleep Trophy in bright sunshine and continued cool under floodlights.
For the hundreds of cricket fans who braved the distance and the dusty environment on Thursday, managed to find patches of shade in the stands to preserve their enthusiasm for the better part of the day, there was something to cheer even though the score board told them
very little, except for the total and number of overs!
For the record, India Red, on opting to bat, was 232 for five at close on the opening day of the four-day match.
In a "mobile app" driven modern world, it is hard for the genuine fan who walks into the ground to enjoy cricket. But, even the Cricket Board’s app failed for long, after the match started a few minutes late, as one of the sight screens was hurriedly being sprayed with white paint!
Pink ball cricket in whites did require the best of conditions to help the batsmen sight the ball.
The birth pangs of the Ekana International Stadium, that has mammoth work to be done, was understandable. But, it was beyond comprehension as to what stopped the only scoreboard from showing the individual batsmen scores. Thus, it was no surprise that opener Sudip Chatterjee reached his half century without anyone getting a hint of it, before the stumps were sent flying by left arm medium pacer Aniket Choudhary.
However, when the 27-year-old Panchal reached his century, in the cool environment of the night, the crowd was able to acknowledge the feat
with a congratulatory wave of noise! It was another matter that the batsmen continued with his business without any sign of excitement or sense of achievement.
On a dodgy pitch that deserved more credit for denying the batsmen the freedom to play their strokes, and enhanced the efficiency of the bowlers considerably, it was no big deal for the big scoring Panchal who had put up an unbeaten triple century last season. He was glad to
play the waiting game to perfection. His century came off 217 balls, studded with 11 fours.
Panchal’s patience was only matched by the fans who stayed silent through the entertainment, as the scoring rate improved from two per
over at a snail’s pace to about three per over. Quick runs need not be the only source of entertainment in first class cricket, the foundation for big ticket games, but survival took precedence over stroke play for the smart batsmen who knew it was their platform to excel.
Sudip Chatterjee had played 91 balls for his 52, while Ishank Jaggi stayed for 101 balls before being bowled by Murali Vijay for 23. In fact, it was the part time bowlers who had more success, as Panchal was one of Karun Nair’s two victims, while Murali Vijay also bagged two in a dramatic last session.
With the daring wicket-keeper batsmen Dinesh Karthik in the middle, there was still a lot of scope of cricket coming alive for the faithful fans, even though he had consumed 64 balls for his 15.
India Red: 1st innings: Priyank Panchal lbw b Karun Nair 105; Sudip Chatterjee b Aniket Choudhary 52; Ishank Jaggi b Murali Vijay 23; Dinesh Karthik (batting) 15; Rahul Singh Gahlaut c Parthiv Patel b Karun Nair 4; Rishabh Pant c Parthiv Patel b Murali Vijay 11; Krishnappa Gowtham (batting) 10; Extras (b-4, lb-5, nb-3) 12; Total (for five wickets in 86 overs) 232.
Fall of wickets: 1-83, 2-158, 3-199, 4-203, 5-221.
India Green bowling: Aniket Choudhary 13-2-39-1; Navdeep Amarjeet Saini 12-3-24-0; Shahbaz Nadeem 24-5-61-0; Md. Siraj 11-2-24-0; Mayank Dagar 15-2-43-0; Karun Nair 5-1-17-2; Murali Vijay 6-2-15-2.
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