India vs Bangladesh: Virat Kohli's men ready for pink revolution

It’s finally time for India’s maiden pink ball day-night Test against Bangladesh; Eden Gardens will offer a green top and the quicks are expected to run riot.

India captain Virat Kohli during a practice session in Kolkata on Thursday.   -  K.R. Deepak

People of Bangladesh feel comfortable in Kolkata. They don’t need translators. The players can answer in Bengali at press conferences. River fish and a warm plate full of rice is a staple in the Eden Gardens canteen. On Thursday, the decorators’ table across the kitchen turned into a marriage reception dining desk as journalists from both the countries sat down to relish a meal together discussing cricket.

That’s what this day-night Test promises — brotherhood and a collective effort to revive the highest form of the sport in a land that is not alien.

India didn’t want to start its pink ball business in Australia last year, and for the Tigers, playing in this part of the world is nothing less than home. Dhaka is 30 minutes or so by air.

READ: Fielding will be challenging, says Kohli

At present, the city of joy has taken a leaf out of Steven Tyler’s books. Many years ago, the Aerosmith frontman had written, “You could be my flamingo ‘cause pink is the new kinda lingo.” The mood of the song is in the air. A pink balloon is floating, there are tiny pink bulbs in the stands, a pink mascot is advertising the Test match, the scoreboard is pink and the tallest building of the city, The 42, has pink lights installed.

All the colour, sights and sounds have come together for a World Cup-like ambience. But in reality, the Test could be over in three days. Most of the Indian cricketers have bit the pink ball dust in domestic cricket but the story is different for Bangladesh. The only pink ball match across the country was six years ago where none of the current players featured.

India and Bangladesh fans wave the national flags at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.   -  K. R. Deepak

 

However, both the sides have trained hard to brace themselves for the new challenge. Being 1-0 up, India will be aiming for a clean sweep. Bangladesh needs to pull off a miracle to stretch this Test to day five. Among the batsmen, only Mushfiqur Rahim looks promising, and Abu Jayed is the only bowler who made the cherry talk.

Bangladesh needs a solid opening partnership to stamp its authority. Imrul Kayes and Shadman Islam have been below par with their approach against the new-ball bowlers. There is not much to tinker as the tourist do not have anymore openers in its arsenal after an injury to Saif Hassan. The reserve opener has been ruled out of the Kolkata Test due to split webbing.

The onus will be on Rahim and middle-order batsman Liton Das who looked classy in bits and pieces in Indore. It will difficult for finger spinners to grip the pink ball if dew throws a challenge but Mehidy Hasan Miraz may be preferred to Taijul Islam for his batting abilities.

Virat Kohli and Co. have been top class in the World Test Championship so far. They have won all the six Tests — home and away in the West Indies — and there is not much to worry.

Having found an attacking opener in Mayank Agarwal, it will be looking to bat once as usual. This is also Rohit Sharma’s happy hunting ground. He missed out on Indore and if he strikes the right chord here, he will need just about 100 to 120-odd balls to snatch the game away from the Tigers.

Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque during a practice session.   -  K. R. Deepak

 

Pitch talk

The green top will be a delight for the quicks. Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal had run through the Indian top order two years ago on this pitch, which is good news for Abu Jayed, Ebadat Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman, if he makes it to the XI.

The Indian pacers have been prolific everywhere. Pink or red, green or not, they have been hunting in packs. Even without Jasprit Bumrah, the combination of Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami sent Bangladesh packing in the first Test.

Kuldeep Yadav’s frequent guest appearances at the Indore nets leads to speculations about his chances in this Test. It will be logical as a wrist spinner will have less difficulty in gripping the pink ball dipped in dew. It remains to be seen if the chinaman makes a comeback.

Paratroopers were supposed to fly down from the sky to hand over the pink balls to the captains, Virat Kohli and Mominul Haque. It now stands cancelled due to security issues.