Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday (November 21) said that the concept of Day/Night Test can be a “one-off thing but not a regular scenario”, asserting the asserting that beauty of facing a red cherry on a nervy morning shouldn’t be compromised for entertainment’s sake.
India is the last major Test-playing nation to play a ‘Pink Test’ as they embark on a new journey against Bangladesh from Friday (November 22).
But the Indian captain didn’t hide his apprehensions making it clear that “loving Test cricket” should be a choice and not compulsion.
“I think this can be a one-off thing but it should not be a regular scenario. In my opinion, this should not become the only way Test cricket is played. Because then you are losing out on that nervousness of the first session in the morning,” Kohli made his stand clear on what he thinks about the latest move.
There is something pristine about Test cricket and it the skipper in no way wants the on-field trials and tribulations faced in white flannels to be compromised one bit.
“You can bring excitement into Test cricket but you can’t purely make Test cricket based on just entertaining people. Entertainment of Test cricket lies in the fact that a batsman is trying to survive a session and the bowler is trying to set up a batsman (to get him) out. If people don’t respond to that, too bad,” Kohli said.
Kohli believes that loving Test cricket is an organic feeling and not something compulsory.
“If I don’t like Test cricket, you can’t push me into liking it. If someone gets excitement or boost from watching the battle between bat and ball and great session of Test cricket, in my opinion those are the people that should come and watch Test cricket because they understand what’s going on.”
India’s last series against South Africa witnessed a less than encouraging turn-out and the result was this D/N Test as Sourav Ganguly took the initiative upfront after becoming the Board president.
“Yes, it’s great to create more buzz around Test cricket. The first four days here are sold-out, which is amazing for Test cricket.”
“Imagine the boost our bowlers have standing at the mark with some 80,000 (67,000) fans cheering for him. I am expecting very exciting cricket in the first hour because the energy level will be very high. I am sure the fans would enjoy it. It’s a landmark Test and we are lucky to be the first Indian team playing it. It’s a great honour,” he concluded.
Kohli also advocated former India captain and NCA Director Rahul Dravid’s idea of having a proper calendar to revive Tests.
“It would bring a lot more system and a lot more sync into people planning their calendars as well. It can’t be random. If you have centres which are marked an if you have Test calendars, which are marked, people will have a better system as to how we can plan to get into those Tests.
“People are not just going to leave work and come to a Test match if they don’t know what’s going on. They can plan things. I think this can be a one-off thing, it should not be a regular scenario,” he maintained.
Kohli feels that the pink ball is like a “heavy hockey ball” and its weight, hardness and colour could pose challenges while fielding.
“One thing that surprised me was the fielding sessions. In the slips balls hit so hard it almost felt like a heavy hockey ball, all those synthetic ball that we’re used to play with in the younger days,” Kohli said on the eve of the match.
“It’s purely because of the extra glaze on the ball, it is definitely much more harder. For some reason it felt heavy and even the throws took a lot more effort than the red colour to reach the wicketkeeper.”
India had their first brush with the SG pink ball after they wrapped up the opening Test inside three days in Indore.
India had a session under lights at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
“I think during the day, high catches will be very difficult. With the red or white ball you have the idea of when the ball reaches you but with the pink ball if you don’t look at it your palms are gone.
“Fielding session for me was far more challenging. People are going to be surprised how challenging pink ball can be.”
Visibility in twilight has also been cited as one of the biggest challenges the historic match could pose.
“Not having a great visibility and the ability to pick that colour makes it even more difficult. The decision making has to be very precise like the idea of off stumps. Even when we practised yesterday we felt as if the ball is far but it hits you very quickly.
“The extra glaze of the ball is making it travel faster. It hits the hand hard. It should excite everyone. Sometime you have to change the template. I think we have to be very precise and our skills will be tested in this Test.”
Since the first Day/Night Test between Australia and New Zealand in 2015, 11 matches have been played under lights, but in Indian conditions the dew could play a more influential role, according to Kohli.
“That is one difference in playing day-night Test in India compared to any other country. Apart from that I don’t really feel there is any major difference. Dew is something which is definitely going to be a factor in India in the late last session.
“We spoke to the match referee yesterday. You can’t really predict how much mopping or cleaning of the dew is required at what stage, you never know when the dew is going to arrive.
“He (match referee) had the same discussion that we’ll have to play it as it comes and manage it in the best way possible. That’s the only change I see.”
According to the skipper, the pink ball will do a lot more away from India.
“Obviously the pitches and how much the Kookaboora does is a different ball game altogether. I think the pink ball will do a lot more in foreign conditions than it would in India, probably in the second and third sessions as well.
“These are the few changes I presume but again they could be totally inaccurate until you go out and experience that. From the outside, it looks like these are the few things that might be different,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)