India's cricket team captain Virat Kohli walks to the nets to bat during a practice session at The Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 20, 2019, ahead of the second Test cricket match between India and Bangladesh. Picture: Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP
India's cricket team captain Virat Kohli walks to the nets to bat during a practice session at The Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 20, 2019, ahead of the second Test cricket match between India and Bangladesh. Picture: Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP

Kolkata — India have traditionally been reluctant to embrace innovation in cricket, but on Friday after much heel-dragging they will finally experience a day-night Test when they face neighbours Bangladesh in Kolkata.

The game’s most influential nation was the last major team to jump on the Twenty20 bandwagon, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) doggedly resisted the decision review system before accepting it almost reluctantly.

They have been immune to the charms of day-night Tests and turned down an offer to play one in 2018 in Adelaide, where Australia had hosted New Zealand in the first pink-ball Test in 2015.

However, former captain Sourav Ganguly, who was appointed BCCI president in October, is a champion of the concept. Ganguly said it took him “three seconds” to convince India captain Virat Kohli to meet Bangladesh in what will be the maiden day-night Test for both sides.

“I don’t know why they didn’t want to play [in Adelaide],” Ganguly told reporters. “I met Virat for an hour, and the first question was that we need to play a day-night Test. The answer in three seconds was, ‘yes let’s go ahead and do it'.”

The match, the second of a two-Test series, will fittingly be held at Ganguly’s home ground Eden Gardens, where the first three days are sold out. He is convinced day-night Tests could be a potent weapon in fighting the dwindling attendances at Test matches seen in some venues.

Kohli shares that belief. “It’s an exciting thing. It’s going to be a landmark occasion for Indian cricket,” he said after India defeated Bangladesh inside three days in the series opener in Indore.

“We are just happy that we’re the first team to start pink-ball cricket in India.”

Innovation brings its own set of challenges, however, and Kohli is wary of exaggerated swing, though he says bowlers too might struggle once the ball gets old.

“The ball does a lot early on, more than the red ball, so it’s going to be a challenge for the batters,” he added. “But with the older ball, I don’t think it swings that much so the bowlers will have a tough time as well.”

With most of the India and Bangladesh players having practically no experience with the pink ball, which has been used only sporadically in domestic cricket in both countries, there is at least a level playing field in that regard. Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque said they were aware of the challenges but were looking forward to the experience.

“We don’t have enough experience with that,” the 28-year-old said after their loss in Indore. “But we look forward to the experience. We’ll try to enjoy the next Test.” 

Reuters