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Pink poser: How to play in Eden twilight

Ajinkya Rahane observed that playing the pink ball is going to be a very 'different ball game'

By Our Bureau & Agencies in Calcutta/Indore

  • Published 13.11.19, 2:03 AM
  • Updated 13.11.19, 2:03 AM
Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane Wikimedia Commons

The first-ever Day-Night Test in India is still more than a week away, but there’s already a tinge of pink all around the Indian team. That, when the first India-Bangladesh Test, to be played with the red ball, is scheduled to begin from Thursday.

At the practice session in Indore on Tuesday, India captain Virat Kohli had his first feel of pink. The Indian cricketers took turns to get used to the new colour of the ball during the nets.

The Indian team, however, did not train under the lights and the throw downs with the SG pink ball were part of the traditional red-ball practice session.

Usually, three adjacent nets are placed — for pacers, spinners and throw downs — for the Indian team’s practice. However, on Tuesday, the throw down net was set up on the other side of the ground on separate practice turfs with a black sight screen.

It was Kohli who first faced the pink ball. He looked comfortable, practising mostly defensive shots.

Two key members of Kohli’s Test team — Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara — have, however, said that dealing with the pink ball might be a tricky affair.

Vice-captain Rahane observed that playing the pink ball is going to be a very “different ball game”. Rahane believes that the pink ball’s extra lateral movement compared to the red cherry will force batsmen to play late and closer to their bodies.

Rahane and a few others, including Pujara, had a couple of practice sessions with the pink ball under the watchful eyes of National Cricket Academy director Rahul Dravid in Bangalore a few days ago.

“We had two good practice sessions, actually four, but two with pink ball — one during the day and one under lights. It was actually exciting,” Rahane said ahead of the first Test starting in Indore on Thursday.

“For me, it was the first time I played with the pink ball and definitely it’s a different ball game as compared to the red ball. Our focus was to look into the swing and seam movement and also play close to our body,” Kohli’s deputy said.

Rahane’s assessment after his initial sessions was that the batsmen would have to tweak their technique slightly. “The (new) pink ball does a lot more than the red ball. You have to play slightly late. We had a word with Rahulbhai as he was also there.”

During the couple of Duleep Trophy seasons with the pink ball, there were complaints about spinners going out of the equation. “I think they played with the Kookaburra ball in the Duleep Trophy, that’s a different thing. With the SG ball, I am not so sure. We played against spinners in Bangalore and they were getting good revs (revolutions) on the ball. Yes, the shine is completely different to the red ball, but it’s very hard to compare the SG and the Kookaburra balls,” he explained.

Rahane conceded he is starting afresh with no reference point.

“I’ve never played with the pink ball. And what I’ve heard from other people is that the Kookaburra is actually really easy for the batsmen. But what we saw in Bangalore is that the SG ball was doing a bit for the fast bowlers.”

The 31-year-old feels that the primary objective would be to adjust to the pink ball “mentally” and hope for things to fall in place after that.

“I’m sure we’ll get two good practice sessions in Calcutta. I’m sure everyone will adjust very quickly. We are used to playing different formats — after T20Is we play Tests.

“It’s just the mindset, technical skills will also play a role. Mentally, if you can adjust to the pink ball, then it’ll be good,” he said.

Pujara, on the other hand, felt that “visibility in twilight” could be an issue during the Day-Night Test at the Eden.

“I have played earlier with the pink ball in the Duleep Trophy, that was a good experience. Playing with the pink ball at the domestic level could come in handy,” Pujara told bcci.tv.

“Visibility is not an issue during the day, but it will be an issue in twilight and under lights, the twilight could be a little difficult. Those sessions will be crucial. Most players have said that picking the wrist spinners’ wrong ’un is a little difficult.”

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