Duleep Trophy set for pink ball debut

Duleep Trophy set for pink ball debut

Duleep Trophy set for pink ball debut

The longevity of the longer format of cricket has been invariably questioned in recent times. Reasons have been debated and ideas brainstormed to preserve the traditional format. The day and night Test with pink ball is being looked at as an option and could possibly be the future of game’s traditional format.

In India, it is being used to revive the fading significance of the once prestigious Duleep Trophy, which kicks off on Tuesday at a new venue, Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here.

 The venue, better known as the home of Afghanistan cricket team, will host four matches, including the final, beginning with Yuvraj Singh-led India Red against Suresh Raina’s India Green. The tournament, which got no place in India's cramped schedule last year, returned altered this season after being reduced to three teams instead of erstwhile five zonal teams. The third team, India Blue, will be captained by former India opener Gautam Gambhir.

With just one Test having been played with the pink ball, the talk on the eve of the tournament bordered largely on speculations. The last minute touches were put at a furious pace, the lush green outfield looked attractive, the floodlights checked upon.

The four curators, led by BCCI pitches and grounds committee Daljeet Singh, have been putting in frenetic efforts to make the pitch match ready despite the work on the ground beginning only on August 7. The pitches have been covered for last three months and with rains falling intermittently, it is likely the teams would be greeted with slow and low bounce. Also, with two out of the seven pitches, expected to host the matches, it is to be seen how the surfaces cope up with excessive play.

One of the prerequisites for the pink ball Test is considered to be a generous layer of grass, both on the outfield as well as on the pitch to save the ball from wear and tear. The Test match between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide Oval had 11mm grass to save kookaburra pink ball from getting old early. Here approximately 5mm of grass been left on the outfield. One of the key points of this experiment remains how to make the pink ball last through the 80 overs with matches beginning at 2 pm and going on till 9 pm.

“The New Zealand -Australia Test match I saw was pretty exciting, the ball was swinging a bit much, so it will be challenging if it swings a lot playing under lights,” Yuvraj said.

“I just feel that the more exciting things come to cricket, more exciting it will be... But the culture, the history of Test cricket shouldn’t get spoilt.”

Raina, being from Uttar Pradesh, has played on the ground but felt it is too early to predict anything. “Duleep Trophy has not been played with the pink ball before. We can only tell tomorrow about it. Nonetheless, it is a good platform for the players before the season .”

However, the tournament will miss the country’s top players following the introduction of two T20Is against West Indies in Florida on August 27 and 28. Only Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara out of current squad to West Indies will feature in the tournament.

 Still the larger question remains whether the pink ball Test could be way forward? Green’s coach WV Raman puts it simply. “It is a way forward, but wait for a week.

The biggest challenge would be during winter when the ball gets wet due to dew, making gripping an issue. Unlike other countries, cricket is a winter sport in India.” For now, all one can do is wait and watch.

 

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