As the Indian cricket board (BCCI) gears up to host its first day-night Test in less than a month’s time, focus is now on how the pink ball will behave. BCCI has asked SG, the makers of the red balls used in first-class cricket in India, to provide 72 new balls for the Test match against Bangladesh that is scheduled to be played at Eden Gardens from November 22.
TOI has learnt that the Indian team management has asked for balls that behave similar to how the red balls do in India. Confirming the development, SG’s director Paras Anand told TOI: “We have taken feedback from the players. Our thought process is to make the pink ball as similar to red ball as possible.”
The major problem with the pink ball is retaining the colour and shape of the ball. In this case, retaining reverse swing – a phenomenon which is an intricate part of how Test cricket is played in this part of the world – is a huge challenge.
“The red ball has a dark colour. That allows the players to shine the ball to help it swing all day. Pink ball already start with a bright colour. Balancing that is something that we are working on,” Anand revealed, adding that the balls would be sporting the traditional pronounced seam.
Once the lacquer of a regular red ball wears off, teams usually shine one side of the ball while the other side is allowed to lose its colour and get scuffed up.
The Indian team management has rallied around its incisive pace attack even on Indian pitches and reverse swing has played a key part in the pacers’ stellar show. With the Eden pitch likely to be wearing more grass than usual and with dew likely to have some impact in the evening, spinners won’t be expected to play the lead role.
The balls are likely to be delivered to BCCI by next week. That leaves the board to give the Test specialists- like Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara – enough time to get used to the balls.
Interestingly, the Indian team had complained about the quality of red balls last year. However, Anand believes that they have resolved the issue. “We have made the balls harder and the Indian team gave a positive feedback. We have tried to replicate the hardness in the pink balls as well,” Anand claimed.
When the BCCI had decided in 2016 to use the Duleep Trophy as a platform to test the pink balls, the survey wasn’t very encouraging. A member of the Indian team who has played with the pink ball told TOI: “The ball lost colour drastically. Picking it up got difficult, especially at twilight, and the spinners found it very soft after 30 overs. It was difficult to derive bounce and zip off the pitch.”
However, the BCCI cricket operations team’s failure to host Duleep Trophy with pink balls this year- something present BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had strongly advocated as the then chairman of the technical committee – has created a sense of uncertainty albeit there are plans to host some of the matches in the upcoming first-class season under lights.