Pink ball match at Eden: The first-timers explain

Bengal cricketers Writtick Chatterjee, Santosh Sabanayakan, Parthasarathi and Arindam Ghosh share their day-night match experience in Kolkata.

The pink ball will make its Test debut in India when it takes on Bangladesh in its first D/N game in Kolkata this month.   -  BBCI/Twitter

When our flight from Indore landed at 5:40 pm on Tuesday, it was pitch dark. At the onset of winter, the sun sets early in the east. The floodlights at Eden are likely to be switched on closer to 5 in the maiden day-night pink ball Test between India and Bangladesh, starting Friday.

100

Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will ring the customary Eden Bell to start India's first-ever day-night Test from 22 to 26 November.   -  Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya



The scheduled time for stumps is 8 pm. The dew can get intense beyond that hour. On Sourav Ganguly’s orders, the final of the Cricket Association of Bengal’s (CAB) Super League started rolling in pink three years ago. It was the first ever pink ball match in India. India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and fast bowler Mohammed Shami were part of it.  With the Kookaburra pink ball in hand, Shami had rattled the Bhowanipore batsmen to drive Mohun Bagan to victory.

Sportstar
 spoke to the cricketers, who played in the historic club fixture, to understand the challenges of dealing with the pink ball at Eden.

READ: Malinga makes U-turn on retirement

Railways and ex-Bengal batsman Arindam Ghosh had scored a century in the second innings for Bagan. He had taken a while to figure out the ball behaviour. “It took me 10 overs to understand the movement. The new pink ball will swing a lot. But if it is old, there is no reverse swing. Actually nothing happens with the old ball and the spinners don’t have help,” he breaks it down for the first-timers.

Arindam says it is more like a white ball.  “It skids a bit”.

Sighting the ball

Santosh Sabanayakan kept wickets for Bhowanipore in that match. Coming from the 360 degree of a stumper, the ball can get a little tough for the deep fielders. “The high catches can get difficult to judge. Dark sky, white ball is a contrast but the pink ball is not much of a contrast if you see.

100

Eden Gardens is all geared up for the pink ball Test match.   -  Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya



“While batting under the lights, you have to get used to the shiny ball. If you practise for a few days, it shouldn’t be a problem,” he tells us.

Facing Shami

Bengal batsman Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee, who played for Bhowanipore, says the pink ball resembled glossy balls that kids usually play with. “I could only see the seam as it was black. It is difficult to gauge the polish when it is thrown at you by pacers such as Shami.

ALSO READ: Sana Mir to take break from international cricket

“My last competitive match against Shami was in 2011. He had not started for India then. In 2016 when this match happened, he was a different bowler. An India regular. I couldn’t read that delivery at all [which was caught by Vivek Singh], I am being honest,” he says.

What about the spinners?

Bengal all-rounder Writtick Chatterjee says it is just like the white ball. “The lacquer is a little slippery. If the wicket is a green top, it will be hard for the spinners to grip in the dew. Pink ball is better suited for seaming wickets,” says Chatterjee, adding that the pink ball can be turned if there is no dew. “I had played the Duleep Trophy final last year in Dindigul, Tamil Nadu. Spinners got a bit of help there. There was no dew. It was turning quite a lot. But as an off-spinner, I can tell you that it is difficult to grip the lacquer. After a few overs, the seam is flattened. In red ball, one side is rough. But in pink ball with lacquer, you can’t do that.

From a coach

I was the coach for Bhowanipore. Only the new ball will matter. Later, it will be very easy to bat. The white jersey will make a good contrast and will help the players. Shami could be a threat as he has the pace as well as swing.

- Abdul Monayem, Kolkata maidan coach