India and Bangladesh will play their maiden day-night Test with the pink ball, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday with the ball already becoming a main attraction ahead of the clash.
The city is brimming with everything that's pink -- light, decoration etc.-- to mark the historic day for both the teams as they play a Test match under lights with a pink ball. India's captain Virat Kohli has also expressed his excitement to play in the team’s first-ever day-night Test.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) gave a sneak peak of the preparations that have been made for the Test match at the Eden Gardens stadium.
BCCI (@BCCI) November 20, 2019
To make it more special, Army paratroopers will fly into the Eden Gardens to hand over a pink ball each to the two captains just before the toss.
Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) November 20, 2019
The Kolkata Test will also see the SG pink ball making its debut. So far, Test cricket was being played with the Kookaburra and Dukes balls. In India, the SG Test ball is used to play Test cricket. For this match, BCCI asked its supplier of Test match balls, Sanspareil Greenlands (SG), a Meerut-based sports manufacturer, to deliver 72 pink balls.
Why pink ball?
Test matches with usual morning to evening schedule are played with a red ball. In case of Day/Night Tests, the visibility factor comes into the picture as they are played under artificial lights, and hence, pink coloured ball is used.
The red ball loses shine and colour and appears brown in colour as the play progresses, making it difficult for the batsmen to spot it under floodlights. The pink balls have better visibility and lose their colour and shape more slowly, thus, they are preferred for Test cricket under lights.
There were experiments with yellow, orange and pink balls, and there was even a suggestion to play with an improved white ball that could last 80 overs with the players wearing coloured kits.
Virat Kohli plays pink ball during a practice session (Photo: PTI)
All the 11 pink ball Tests played so far have ended with a result. The pink ball is said to swing a bit more.
Kookaburra, Dukes and SG are the three main manufacturers of cricket balls in international matches. While India uses the SG ball, England, Ireland and the West Indies use Dukes (manufactured in England). All the other Test playing nations make use of the Kookaburra ball manufactured in Australia.
Timings for the pink ball Day/Night Test at Eden Gardens
A pink coloured balloon floats on the sky ahead of the first pink ball day-night Test match between India and Bangladesh, in Kolkata
Unlike the traditional start time of 9:30 am for Test matches in India, play will start at 1 pm IST and end by 8:00 pm.
The first interval will be at 3:00 pm IST and the second session will resume at 3:40 pm IST. Tea will be taken at 5.40 pm with a 20-minute break and the final session is scheduled to start at 6:00 pm IST.
On Friday, among the fans, in attendence would be Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and sport pseronalities.
It will also be the first time the SG pink ball is used in competitive cricket.
Difference between pink ball of different makers
All the three balls have six rows of stitches around the central seam of the ball. However, while Dukes and SG are hand-stitched in all six rows, Kookaburra only hand-stitches two rows (inner seam); the four outer rows are stitched with machines. That is why the seam of the Kookaburra is said to flatten faster than that of the Dukes and SG balls.
In 2016, when the domestic tournament Duleep Trophy was played with imported pink balls, the BCCI had asked the played not to take the ball as souveniers as they were expensive (Rs 8,000 each). The ball made by SG costs Rs 2,700 each.
Difference between red and pink ball:
The seam of the SG pink ball is stitched with a black thread as opposed to the white on a red ball. The pink ball has a fine layer of extra color and paint to improve visibility under floodlights.
Since all all SG balls are hand-stitched, the seam is a bit more pronounced. Keeping the dew in mind, the seam is a bit more prominent in a pink ball. There is extra lacquer on the pink ball to give it more shine.
The brief history of pink ball Tests
The International Cricket Council (ICC) had approved Day/Night Tests in 2012 and the first Day/Night Test was played in 2015 between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide. So far, 11 Day-night Tests have been played and Australia has been the most successful side so far in pink-ball cricket, winning all their five games that were all played at home.
Sri Lanka is the second in the list with two wins out of three. England, South Africa and New Zealand have won one Test each.
Out of the 12 Test-playing nations, 8 have had played with the pink ball. India are the only major Test-playing nation to have not played a day-night Test. In 2018, BCCI had turned down an offer to play a Day-night Test in Australia.
Though India have never played with pink ball in international stage, players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay have played Day-Night pink ball matches in Duleep Trophy.