Pink-ball cricket was the only saving grace for the Duleep Trophy - tournament that’s been struggling for relevance in the recent past. Come next week and the season-opening tournament that was once virtually considered to be a selection trial for India’s Test squad - will revert to red-ball cricket.

The tournament - to be played at the KSCA facility in Alur, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, from August 17 to September 8 - will revert to the traditional format after experimenting with pink-ball cricket under floodlights for the last three editions.

Considering Indian team’s opposition to playing a pink-ball Test - even overseas, let alone at home - it is understandable that the BCCI has halted the pink-ball experiment for the Duleep Trophy. However, Saba Karim, the BCCI general manager - cricket operations, preferred to focus on the logistical challenges, including lack of broadcast of matches except for the final as the primary reason than India’s reluctance to playing a floodlit Test.

“We were finding it very difficult to get a venue. Only a couple of days back we were able to finalise it. That is why only the Duleep Trophy final will now be telecast, so it does not make sense to play the tournament with the pink-ball,” Karim said.

“Last year, because we were able to get a confirmation on the venue a month in advance, we could prepare with the pink-ball. But this time around, it was a challenge to find a suitable venue. Finally, it was the KSCA who were helpful with it. Once that was done, it was too late to hold it with the pink-ball.”

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Gill, Fazal, Panchal to lead

Promising batsman Shubman Gill, Vidarbha’s successive Ranji Trophy-winning captain Faiz Fazal and Gujarat captain Priyank Panchal will lead India Blue, India Green and India Red, respectively. The national selection panel headed by M.S.K. Prasad announced the squads on Tuesday.

Interestingly, the tournament will not feature a single Tamil Nadu player despite 44 top performers in domestic cricket being divided in three teams.