In a historic move to organise India’s maiden Day-Night Test match, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly told PTI that the decision is based on “common sense” as it is the only way to revive falling crowd interest in the traditional format.
India will play the match against Bangladesh on November 22 in Eden Gardens, Kolkata as a part of the tour comprising three T20Is and two Tests.
The Day-Night match will be the second game of the two-match series from November 22-26.
Ending days of speculation after Ganguly proposed the idea to the Bangladesh Cricket Board which faced resistance from its players and sat for multiple meetings to convince them, the former captain made the announcement.
Ganguly told PTI, “The BCB has confirmed and we are having a pink-ball Test. Its a good development. Test cricket needs this push. Me and my team were bent on it and thanks to Virat (Kohli) also, he agreed.”
The former captain also said he is happy that India skipper Virat Kohli, as well as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), have agreed on a historic first at such short notice.
“It’s just my job, that’s what I’m here for… Because I’ve played this game for so long. It’s great. I think common sense is important. And I think it’s a great move for Test cricket and hopefully it will bring crowds back to the ground,” Ganguly told PTI in an exclusive interview just after the landmark development.
Bangladesh’s South African coach Russell Domingo conceded in Dhaka that there are concerns about how the match will pan out but the team has decided to accept the change and explore new avenues. The match will start at 2pm (IST) and will comprise a Tea and Dinner break.
“We think its a great opportunity. I don’t think India has played a pink ball Test before. Its a massive occasion at Eden Gardens against one of the best teams in the world,” Domingo said.
“We are looking forward to that challenge. There are some challenges as we will not have a lot of time to prepare but its same for India. I don’t think they have had a Day-Night Test match. So it will be same for both teams,” he added.
“Since its pink ball, both teams will be close to each other. Sometime change is the best,” the former Proteas coach said.
“Test cricket needs this push. Me and secretary Jay (Shah) and our new team were pretty hell bent on it. 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,” Ganguly said.
It wasn’t an easy job but Ganguly managed to convince BCB mandarins after a lot of back channel talks.
“Things change like this. I think it’s a great start for Test cricket in the subcontinent. Our intentions have been good. It’s going to be no problem at all. Everything will be fine don’t worry,” the former captain said in an assured tone.
It was Ganguly, who was instrumental in organising the first-ever pink ball match in India although it was a Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) Super League final between Mohun Bagan and Bhowanipore under lights in June, 2016. Ganguly headed the CAB at the time.
Support from CAB
Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) secretary Avishek Dalmiya said they will leave no stone unturned to make India’s first-ever Day-Night Test, here next month a success.
“In one word, we are delighted. It’s also great news for all the cricket lovers. Eden has been privy to a lot of history. It would be another feather on its cap,” Dalmiya said.
“CAB would leave no stone unturned to ensure that it is a successful event. The presence of dignitaries and distinguished guests, cultural shows and felicitation of former players would add to the grandeur of the event.”
“We would not waste any time and would start planning internally to make it a memorable occasion from tomorrow itself and to give it a carnival feel. Other steps would be taken in this regard,” Dalmiya said.
“We also intend to sit with the BCCI president to work out other modalities and also to ensure we are in sync with the plans of the Indian Cricket Board.”
There are plans to invite India’s legendary Olympians like Abhinav Bindra, M C Mary Kom and P V Sindhu and felicitate them for their contribution to the country’s Olympic movement during the match.
The Pink Test
Ganguly, a former India captain and an advocate of the innovation to revive interest in Test cricket, wants to make it an annual affair like Australia’s Pink Test in which the national team wears pink caps to raise breast cancer awareness.
Also, with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set to witness the first days proceedings, it is expected to be a carnival at the Eden.
Ganguly, within a week of taking over as Board chief, has created a lasting legacy.
“It’s just my job, that’s what I’m here for… Because I’ve played this game for so long. I think its a great move for Test cricket and hopefully it will bring crowds back to the ground,” he said.
Internationally, there have been 11 Day-Night Tests so far since the first between Australia and New Zealand in 2015. The most recent Day-Night Test took place in January this year between Australia and Sri Lanka in Brisbane.
India were approached to play a Day-Night Test during their tour of Australia last year but the country declined the offer at that time, asserting that sighting the ball becomes a problem after it gets old under floodlights.
How about the spinners?
Two players, who played that match — Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami — are expected to play the first-ever pink Test.
The BCCI had introduced the pink ball in Duleep Trophy that same year and it continued for three seasons before the Board scrapped it this year due to lack of broadcast coverage.
Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma have also played pink ball Duleep games among the current India players.
In the Duleep Trophy games that were held in the preceding years (2016, 2017 and 2018), when Ganguly was the technical committee chairman, dew was one issue that became problematic for the spinners.
“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,” Ganguly said.
Ganguly also informed that BCCI will persist with ‘SG Test’ pink balls instead of Dukes or Kookaburra.
“Hopefully SG…Because the first match will be with SG so the second Test will also have to be with SG.”
Asked why Kookaburra balls can’t be used, Ganguly said that two different balls (different companies) can’t be used in the same series.
“No, it can’t be because the series has to be played with same ball. It can’t be two different balls in the same series.”
No Shakib Al Hasan
With no Shakib Al Hasan, banned for two years (one year suspended sentence) for breaching ICC Anti-Corruption code, Bangladesh might find it problematic to deal with pink ball under lights.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. They have such quality players they would adjust easily,” Ganguly sounded confident that the match wont lose its competitive flavour without Shakib.
Was there a feeling of deja vu when Bangladesh agreed just like CAB hosted the Indo-Pak game in World T20 after being shifted from Dharmasala at short notice in 2016, he replied: “This was scheduled. We just made it a day/night unlike that game.”
Now that the match will be a day-night one, Ganguly said he would now get on with the arrangement part.
“We have not decided anything yet because we were not confirmed whether it’s going to be a day/night or day. Once this is confirmed we will take it from there,” he concluded.
(With inputs from agencies)