KOLKATA: The Bangladesh board (BCB) took its time to think over BCCI president Sourav Ganguly‘s proposal that the second Test match between the two countries be a day-night affair.
By the time BCB managed to convince its players – a day before the team left Dhaka – just over three weeks remained for the match.
Cyclone Bulbul then hit the city, hampering preparation.
Curator Sujan Mukherjee and his team, who had prepared the ground for the country’s first official pink-ball game – CAB Super League final three years back – had to work on a war footing to get Eden Gardens ready for the country’s maiden pink-ball Test, which begins on Friday.
BCCI chief curator Ashish Bhowmick, who had flown down a week ago for an initial assessment, is back in town to oversee the entire operation.
Several experts feel that Ganguly has chosen the best-suited venue for pink-ball Test as Eden Gardens has all the pre-requisites needed to make it a success.
The pink ball is still not a widely-manufactured product, at least in India, and hence there are still a number of concerns. While day-night Duleep Trophy matches were played with Kookaburra balls in all three seasons, SG balls will be used for the upcoming Test.
The main problem with the pink ball has been its longevity. While the traditional red ball gets its colour more from the leather, a pink ball is primarily a coloured product. The more it is used, the more it loses its original colour.
Besides, instead of the red ball’s mat finish, the pink one has a glossy outer cover. That’s why it needs special protection and grass plays an important role as it acts as a cushion.
The Eden pitch already has a good grass cover. But it’s the lush green outfield that will help the ball last longer. Moreover, the high-quality black clay soil here produces a smooth surface which will reduce the wear and tear of the ball.
There were some complaints about the ball losing its colour and shape fast during the Duleep Trophy matches, but experts feel that is unlikely to be the case at Eden. “The soil character of north India is vastly different from that of Eden Gardens. It’s probably best suited for pink-ball cricket,” a groundsman observed.
The tricky part for Mukherjee and his men is to maintain the right water balance. With no watering for the last few days, the bright sun has made the top surface dry. But with monsoon having lingered long in this part of the country and the Bulbul effect have resulted in water retention below the surface – the track can produce some uneven bounce.
This same water content beneath the surface in the outfield will also generate dew after sunset. Although groundsmen are prepared to tackle that with anti-dew sprays, experts feel dew is almost certainly likely to play a part in this match.
Batsmen will prefer the dew to set in as that will make the ball wet and reduce the possibility of swing after sunset. But if it remains dry, batting can be a difficult prospect.
The captain winning the toss should have no hesitation to bat first since the match will begin at 1 pm, – which has been historically the best time to bat at Eden – between lunch and tea of a daytime game. Whatever may be the outcome of the Test, experts are almost sure of two things – there will be virtually no role for spinners and no reverse swing, either. Reverse swing happens only when one face of the ball gets rough. But that is not possible with a glossy ball. It will keep shining or lose it on all sides.
If the ball loses shape, getting a replacement could be an issue since there are not enough old pink balls available. It has been learnt that the balls that were used by the two teams during their practice sessions in Indore, will be used as replacement balls. Those balls were collected after being used for a certain period of time and have been marked accordingly.
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