Pink ball practice match on away tours? Pujara says no

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara is open to playing pink ball Tests overseas. He called for more practice sessions but he isn’t sure of a practice match.

Pujara scored a fifty on the first day of the second Test against Bangladesh.   -  K.R. Deepak

It is still early days for India and pink ball cricket. But in two days, the players have got a fair bit of understanding of its behavior. They know when the ball will talk. The fielders have to be flexible for last minute jumps, and the bowlers need to find the right length. There, of course, will be a lot of swing and bounce.

Coming with a fair bit of pink ball experience in domestic cricket, India No. 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara is welcoming towards the day-night Tests — home and away — but he understands that there could be practice sessions, and not practice matches as his captain Virat Kohli had suggested the other day.

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“If we have to play more pink ball games, we have to practice more under lights. If we are playing away from home, you don’t have that much of time. Out of four Tests in a series, you will play only one game with the pink ball. At least three Tests will be with the red ball. So you rather practice with the red ball only. In between a series, you never play a practice game. I don’t think it is practical to play a pink ball warm-up game,” he said on Saturday.

Having batted and fielded in the ongoing fixture against Bangladesh, Pujara revealed that the first and last two hours are easier to bat. “It is easier to bat at the start of the innings. At the twilight time, it swings and when the dew comes in, it is again easier to bat.”

Bangladesh was in rough waters in the first seven overs of its second innings with Ishant Sharma breathing fire. The lanky Indian pacer, who ran through the Tigers with a five-for on day one, returned to haunt again.

But yesterday, Ishant started bowling at noon and finished when the lights came on. Today, he started under the bright floodlight. There was nip in the air that caused the ball to move a bit more. Pujara said, “When the lights are on, the ball swings a bit more. During sunlight, it is easier to see the ball whether it is red or pink. It is a little challenging for the batsmen under lights.

“When we batted yesterday [under lights], we knew there will be enough assistance for the bowlers. Our fast bowlers have been doing well for two years or so. They have been picking up wickets consistently. The idea was to try and make them play as many balls as possible. We knew that the ball is going to swing, so it was important to control the swing and still be accurate with line and length. It swung a little bit more than yesterday."

The 31-year-old also revealed that the SG pink ball assists the spinners a little bit more than Kookaburra. Ravichandran Ashwin tasted the pink for the first time today, and Bangladesh slow left-arm bowler Taijul Islam picked up the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane. “When I played Duleep Trophy, there was not much assistance for the spinners. With this ball, there is a bit of spin. Ashwin and Taijul got a bit of spin.”

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