Varun Shetty in Indore


After a three-day finish to the first Test, India and Bangladesh stayed back in Indore to train with the pink ball before heading to Kolkata for the second and final Test, also the maiden day-night Test for the two teams.

On Sunday, an optional training session for both teams, six Indian players and ten Bangladesh players showed up. The focus for India seemed to be on batting, with only Hanuma Vihari bowling the odd ball. The batting practice was reliant on net bowlers and throwdowns. From the XI that played in the first Test, only Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja trained on Sunday. Bangladesh had a bigger mix, with senior batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim, Imrul Kayes, and Mominul Haque having long sessions.

The Eden Gardens Test will start on November 22, which gives the players just under a week for full-fledged preparation. At the moment, only a handful of players from the two teams have trained with the pink ball, mostly in small pockets during their regular training sessions before the start of the series.

“I hadn’t played with the pink ball before,” Virat Kohli had said on Tuesday, before the first Test began. “I was given an opportunity to try and I wanted to, so that was my mindset behind playing with the pink ball. I think everyone else did it as well. You require extra concentration to pick the pink ball suddenly when you’re playing with the red ball.

“It [the alternating] was to work on the reflexes a little bit as well. Because when you play with the red ball in the net and you arrive at the pink ball, it gets very difficult to pick it up, which can be the case in the game as well. It sort of gives you the match scenario and how it might be difficult to pick it early on. To get into that zone was the reason behind it.”

There are various other factors that the players will have to take a look at.

The few players in the Indian team who have played matches with pink balls have only played with the Kookaburra ball, whereas the Kolkata Test will be played with SG balls, the same brand as the ones used in regular Test and domestic cricket in the country.

Also in the discussions, no doubt, will be catching. India dropped at least five clear catching chances across two innings in the first Test, and Bangladesh dropped two. And while a lot of talk around the pink ball so far has focused on swing, the spinners in the two teams will also have to figure their way around long spells in the dew that is expected at the ground in the evenings.

“Actually, it is a new experience for us, the pink ball,” bowling coach Bharat Arun said after India sealed the win on Saturday. “The spinners that we have are No. 1 and No. 2 in the world [among spinners, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, respectively]. They come with a lot of experience. My job is to give them the right feedback so that they can connect with what they know better and use that. It’s a new experience, and as we go on, we’ll understand bowling with the pink ball.”

The players will also welcome the extra time to train in the relative calm of Indore as Kolkata prepares for what looks like it will be a grand affair under the direct guardianship of new BCCI president Sourav Ganguly at his home ground. Tickets for the first three days have been sold out and the Test could have a dramatic start, with the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) reportedly looking to enlist paratroopers to deliver pink balls to the two captains at the start.

“The paratroopers will fly into the wicket with two pink balls. We have discussed the plans with the army (Eastern Command),” CAB secretary Abhishek Dalmiya was quoted as saying by PTI on Friday. The army, it is believed, will also play both teams’ national anthems before the start of the game.

The paratrooper delivery is only one element of a lavish plan, which includes the ceremonial ringing of the Eden Gardens bell by Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, laps along the boundary by sporting greats of the two nations, and a feature programme with five players who were part of India’s famous 2001 come-from-behind win against Australia in Kolkata.

Share this: