It’s a nobody’s guess that the longer format of cricket has been losing its charm over the years. Despite several initiatives and rule changes to make Test cricket interesting and appealing to fans, it did not result in a drastic increase of in-ground audience.
Then came to Test cricket’s latest innovation – Pink ball test. In this format, instead of playing with a red leather ball in the daytime, pink-colored balls were introduced, and game time-shifted to a day-night schedule. Apparently, pink balls ensure greater visibility under artificial lights.
Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) had been mulling over hosting pink ball tests during the domestic season for years but no concrete decisions were taken.
When ex-India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly took over the reins of BCCI in October 2019, one of the first decisions he took was of hosting a pink ball test and that too at the mecca of Indian cricket – Eden Gardens Kolkata. India would host Bangladesh in November 2019 for a two-test series and the second test match would be a pink ball test.
It’s another matter that the game did not live up to the hype and it just managed to stretch till the 3rd day as India completely dominated the visitors. However, there were some interesting statistics from the game that we would like to bring to your attention:
1. Fast bowlers make merry
Ishant Sharma (9/78) and Umesh Yadav (8/82)’s exemplary performance made it the first instance where two Indian fast bowlers picked up 8 or more wickets in the same Test.
2. India end the year with a clean slate in test cricket
Starting with wins against Australia, clean sweeps against South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh, India ended the year on a high – winning 7 out of 8 tests and no losses!
3. Shortest-ever test played on Indian soil
This pink ball test earned a dubious distinction of being the shortest-ever test to be played in India in terms of the total number of balls faced. In total, only 968 legal deliveries were bowled translating to just over 162 overs! This beat the previous record set during the inaugural test match with Afghanistan in 2018 which lasted 1028 balls.
4. Spinners go empty-handed
While the pacers feasted on the weak opponents by picking as many as 19 out of 20 Bangladeshi wickets (1 dismissal being a run-out), our spinners had to go back home empty-handed. This is only the first instance ever in a home victory for India.
5. Concussions galore
Indian pacers’ dominance over the Bangla tigers during the pink ball test was highlighted by the number of injuries to their batsmen. In fact, two of the batsmen, Liton Das and Nayeem Islam, had to be forced out of the game after being hit on the helmet by Mohammed Shami. This was the first incident in test cricket history where two concussion subs were used to replace the injured players for the rest of the match. While it is clear from above that the inaugural pink-ball test had a lot of dramatic twists, Ganguly has hinted that Indian fans will get to experience a day-night test match more often henceforth. It may be safe to say that the pink ball test match is here to stay, and fans will not be left disappointed.