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Five Indian cricketers will practise with pink balls at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Sunday as the home team prepare for the Day-Night Test against Bangladesh in Kolkata. The plan was to have at least two days of practice, but since the official supplier of the pink ball, Sanspariel Greenlands (SG), could only deliver the first batch of 60 pink balls on Saturday, the training would be restricted to Sunday. The Bangladesh team will get the pink balls on Monday in Indore, which would host the first Test, a red-ball affair, on November 14.
The decision to practise with pink balls was taken by Rahul Dravid, head of cricket at the NCA, in consultation with the Indian team management. Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja are the five players who opted for the pink-ball practice after the option was put forward to the team selected for the two Tests against Bangladesh.
Some players such as Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Agawal and Rahane have played with pink ball in a Duleep Trophy game three seasons ago. However, the Indian board then had opted to use the Kookuburra ball. Now, the BCCI has decided to go with SG. In the 11 day-and-night Tests held so far, Kookaburra and Dukes pink ball have been used; this would be the first time pink SG balls would be used in a Test. There was talk regarding using the Kookaburra ball but Sourav Ganguly, the new BCCI president, said: “No, it can’t be (used) because the series has to be played with same ball. It can’t be two different balls in the same series.”
As the Test team has to report in Indore by Monday, it was decided to go ahead with a one-day session under lights.
“The practice will be on centre wicket where practice will be done in form of match stimulation. Dravid, too, will be part of it. The Karnataka State Cricket Association will provide bowlers and fielders for the session. We wanted to have couple of days under night but due to unavoidable circumstances it was decided to have only one day,” a source in the BCCI informed this paper.
It was Sourav Ganguly who had pushed for the pink-ball Test. It was also Ganguly who, as the head of the Cricket Association of Bengal, was instrumental in arranging the first pink-ball game in India — a Super League final between Mohun Bagan and Bhowanipore in June 2016. That year, the BCCI then used the pink balls in the Duleep Trophy games. Bangladesh have played a domestic final with the pink ball, though that was way back in 2013.
India’s decision to play with pink balls has been keenly followed in Australia which is pushing for two pink-ball Tests against India next year Down Under. In 2018, India had turned down Australia’s proposal to play a pink-ball Test. England’s former captain Michael Vaughan had taken a friendly dig on that issue, tweeting: “Now India have agreed to play a Day/Night Test against Bangladesh surely they will agree to play 1 or 2 in Australia next year … #JustSaying”
The pink ball is manufactured in similar way to the red ball but the treatment of leather is different. It’s dyed, pigmented with a bright colour, and polished. The seam colour is black, though the nature of the thread is the same as the one used in red balls.
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There have been some concerns about dew hampering the spinners but Ganguly dismissed those worries.
“We will make sure there’s no dew. After all day/night one-dayers are played here. There’s this dew treatment spray and all. Nothing will happen,” he said. “Test cricket needs this push. Thanks to Virat (Kohli) also, he agreed straightaway. And even more to Bangladesh Cricket Board that they agreed at such a short notice. It’s a good way forward.”