‘Ball no factor for Shami & Co’

Virat Kohli gives catches during a training session ahead of first pink ball Day-Night cricket Test match between India and Bangladesh in Kolkata. PTI

Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami were the first India internationals to experience the thrill and novelty of playing a long-format game with the pink ball. That came as far back as in June 2016 when, in anticipation of a day-night Test against New Zealand later in the year, Sourav Ganguly decided that the four-day CAB Super League final between Mohun Bagan and Bhawanipore would be as good a game as any to get the experiment underway.

Ganguly was then the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal. Now, as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the former national skipper is a little over 24 hours away from realising his dream of a pink-ball Test in India, with the iconic Eden Gardens providing the setting for the showdown against Bangladesh from Friday.

Saha made 33 and 0, while Shami smashed 36 and 27 apart from picking up five for 42 and two for 82 respectively to turbocharge Bagan’s commanding 296-run win. Both local lads will again expect to play lead roles against Bangladesh.

“The change will be the ball,” Saha, by a distance India’s best wicketkeeper, dug deep into memory on Wednesday afternoon.

“We played with a Kookaburra ball, and this is the SG ball. It will be different timing too (that match started at 2.30 pm, the Test will begin at 1 pm). The ball is slightly hard to pick during the twilight time. We have to adjust to it. There might be a bit more challenge for the batsmen too, because it is a different ball.”

The pink ball is expected to be a pacers’ ally, thus lending further teeth to an already potent Indian attack. But Saha was quick to point out that Shami and Co. didn’t need any external assistance whatsoever. “The ball is not really the factor for Shami, and even the others,” he said.

“He (Shami) has been consistent, and deadly with his reverse-swing. We still need to see what happens in the match but given his form, the ball doesn’t matter.”

In the same breath, Saha admitted that reverse-swing might not be that much of a factor under the circumstances. “There’s less chance of reverse-swing in this game because of the shine and the wetness. But our bowlers are quite skilled,” Saha remarked, as he reflected on the challenges of a pink-ball faceoff. “We have a bit more experience with the pink ball, under lights, than them. But we have to consider everything, including the dew factor. The pink ball moves more than the red ball. It is shinier, so it will last longer. It will help the bowlers more.

“Our lunch and tea times will be different. I don’t think there’ll be much difference in our preparation. Some of us have dinner at around seven o clock, there’s going to be a break at that time. We play ODIs and T20s in those same times. We all know how to adjust to these things.”

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