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India vs Bangladesh | Learnings for India From First Two Days of Pink-Ball Test

Even the Indian team would have hoped for more competition from Bangladesh

Cricketnext Staff |November 23, 2019, 9:30 PM IST
India vs Bangladesh | Learnings for India From First Two Days of Pink-Ball Test

The idea of playing a pink-ball Test against Bangladesh at home, in Virat Kohli's words, was to get a hang of things before taking on tougher challenges around the world. India had an opportunity to play a day-night Test in Adelaide against Australia last year, but it made sense to figure out things at home before risking a debut abroad.

"The thing was to experience the pink ball Test in our own conditions first so you get a hang of how the ball behaves, what is the way to sight the ball and so on. Then eventually going on and playing pink ball Tests anywhere in the world. It can't be a sudden thing," Kohli had explained before the start of the game.

So how has the experiment been so far?

Unfortunately for India, and plenty of fans who had expectations of a contest from this match, the match is turning out to be largely one-sided and looks set to finish within three days, unless Bangladesh pull off a miracle. Even the Indian team would have hoped for more competition from Bangladesh, for only a stiff challenge would have helped them get good pointers about day-night Test cricket.

Yet, there were lessons for India from the two days' play.

An idea about when it swings, and when it doesn't

Before the game started, the prevailing perception was that the ball will swing more in the evening and night than in the day. The twilight period was expected to be the toughest for batsmen, especially against pace. How did reality pan out?

Star Sports showed that the average swing in three sessions on the first day was 1.3, 1 and 0.5 degrees respectively.

The last session on both days, interestingly, is the one that batsmen enjoyed most. On Day 1, India scored 139 for 2 after tea. If one thought it was down to the inability of Bangladesh's bowlers, the second day saw Bangladesh batsmen having a decent outing too in the last session, where they scored 145 for 4.

Interestingly, even though stats show there was swing in the first session, India had to work a bit to get the movement. The first six overs of the game saw almost no swing, with Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav not getting much movement in air or off seam. Bangladesh's openers made a decent start, looking confident in that period.

"It was very different. In the start you must have seen that when we bowled a normal length, it wasn't swinging that much. After that we realised what lengths we need to be hitting in order to get some more help. So the three of us communicated about hitting the right length," Ishant said after the first day's play.

Once India's pacers got the swing, the story was different. Bangladesh folded for just 106, undone by movement and pace, with a couple of players out with concussion too.

Batting not the easiest, unless you're Virat Kohli

Adjusting to the pink ball was a challenge for batsmen more than bowlers. India's batsmen did a fairly good job in their first attempt, but would have noted that you're never really in. The openers got starts, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane got half-centuries, but only Kohli carried on to make a ton.

Bangladesh's bowlers, who struggled in the first Test with the red ball, were not exactly threatening here but managed to get enough movement to keep the batsmen on their toes always. The nature of the ball and the contest required batsmen to adjust to different phases of swing and no-swing, and Kohli did that beautifully in his knock before he fell to a freak catch by Taijul Islam.

Fielding and slip catching is a challenge

Before the game, Kohli had pointed to fielding in slips as one of the factors to watch out for with the pink ball. As always, Kohli was spot on with his assessment. India will be pleased with their effort; they have dropped only one catch so far and taken a few good ones, with Rohit Sharma's stunning catch in the first innings to dismiss Mominul Haque being the highlight. There were occasions when players failed to spot the ball, like Rohit himself did in the final wicket of the first innings when he attempted to catch but the ball parried to Pujara.

The game also showed Wriddhiman Saha's importance behind the stumps. He was terrific throughout, showing tremendous adjustment to the movements of the pink ball. The ball often swung rapidly after beating the bat, but Saha was almost always ready to move swiftly. His diving catch to dismiss Mahmudullah in the first innings was the highlight.

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