Red, white and now pink!

As the pink ball makes its debut in India, Sportstar traces its journey throughout the world.

Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly (centre) oversees the preparations of the first pink-ball game in India hosted at Eden Gardens.   -  PTI

Bhawanipore Club and Mohun Bagan Athletic Club wouldn’t have been in the limelight as much as they are now as they lock horns in a four-day Super League final that began today at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. For, they are, for the first time, playing under lights using a pink ball. They are Indian cricket’s guinea pigs as it experiments with the game’s latest development. This match is supposed to decide the fate of the pink ball in India and might result in India’s first day-night Test. Incidentally, India’s only first-class game under lights (played with a white ball) was the 1996-97 Ranji Trophy final, where Mumbai beat Delhi on first innings lead.

Here are the first pink-ball matches from the rest of the world.

January 2010: Guyana v Trinidad and Tobago at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua.

The pink ball made its first-class debut in Antigua in January 2010, when Guyana took on Trinidad and Tobago in the Regional Four Day Competition. Guyana’s right-arm pacer Esuan Crandon delivered the first ball and his team-mate Brandon Bess, another right-arm quick, got the first wicket with the pink ball. West Indies’ Lendl Simmons, playing for Guyana, scored a hundred. The match ended in a draw.

April 2010: Marylebone Cricket Club v Durham at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Some three months after the pink ball made its debut in Antigua, English sides, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Durham got a taste of it. They met in Abu Dhabi for the Champion County match, where the invitational MCC side meets the season’s best English county team. Durham openers Michael Di Venuto and Kyle Coetzer had no trouble in getting acquainted with the pink ball. Both scored hundreds and put on a 181-run partnership, which set up Durham’s 311-run win over MCC.


September 2011: Kent v Glamorgan at St. Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

More than a year later, the pink ball travelled to England for a County Championship Division Two match between Kent and Glamorgan. Right-arm pacer John Glover of Glamorgan picked up four wickets in the first innings to restrict Kent to 237. Aided by Stewart Walters’ 147, Glamorgan scored 423. Kent’s fightback in its second innings wasn’t enough as it gave Glamorgan an easy 127 to chase. The latter went past the target in 20 overs with eight wickets left.

December 2011: Pakistan International Airlines v Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited at National Stadium, Karachi

A few of Pakistan’s international stars like Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed were part of their country’s first tryst with the pink ball. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTB) contested the final of the 2011-12 Quaid-e-Azam trophy in Karachi. The match was even stevens after both teams played their first innings. Then, the PIA pacers routed ZTB for 70 in its second innings. PIA chased 108 in the second innings in 20 overs, losing just one wicket. The Pakistan Cricket Board recently okayed 10 pink ball games for the upcoming first-class season.

September 2012: North West v Knights at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom

South Africa experimented with the pink ball in September 2012 when provincial team North-West and franchise team Knights locked horns in a one-off four-day match. The match ended in a tame draw. But the ball was changed five times in 112 overs in Knights’ first innings. Neither team liked playing with it.

February 2013: Central Zone v North Zone at Sher e Bangla Stadium, Mirpur

Bangladesh inaugurated the pink ball in its first inter-zonal first-class competition -- the Bangladesh Cricket League. The nation's international players, Nasir Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mohammad Ashraful, Elias Sunny and Raqibul Hasan starred in the match won by Central Zone. Hasan aided his team in the first innings, scoring a fine 125. Bangladesh hasn’t played with the pink ball ever since.

March 2014: Three Sheffield Shield matches in various parts of Australia

The pink ball reached Down Under in March 2014, where it was experimented with for the first time in the Sheffield Shield competition. Despite quite a few players having issues with the visibility and the durability of the ball, it swiftly grew in popularity, resulting in the first day-night Test in Adelaide last year.

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