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Problems anticipated and possible solutions with pink ball cricket in India

Will pink ball cricket be path-breaking in the evolution of the sport or will it be forgotten as an innovation which could not find a place?

Eden Gardens bathed in pink

History has just been made at the Eden Gardens when Ravikant Singh of Bhowanipore bowled the first ball of the CAB Super League final to Jayojit Basu of Mohun Bagan – the first official delivery on Indian soil with a pink ball. Mohammed Shami and Wriddhiman Saha will be among the 22 Indian players who will be the first set of players in the country to get a taste of this new setting over the next few days.

Everybody associated with cricket has one big question on their minds right now – will pink ball cricket be a path-breaking step in the evolution of the sport, or will it be consigned to history as one of the innovations which could find no legitimate place – like the super sub, which had been in vogue in limited overs cricket a few years earlier.

The organisers of India’s first ever match with this ball, among whom Sourav Ganguly’s has been the leading voice, have stressed on the fact that no conclusion should be drawn before the experiment is actually carried out. However, with an eye on Indian conditions especially, there are some specific issues which will be kept a wary eye on.

Longevity of pink ball

A pink ball after being used for 65 overs in the Adelaide Test

One of the most common concerns about the pink ball has been that it does not last as long as would be required for a ball in the longer formats, where a change of ball is stipulated after a minimum of 80 overs. It has been said by players after the Adelaide Day/Night Test between Australia and New Zealand that the ball gets scuffed up faster, loses its shape and colour, and almost gets difficult for bowlers to grip as well as for batsmen to hit it cleanly.

One of the first issues raised when day/night Test cricket was planned in India was that the grounds in India are more abrasive than Adelaide, and that the ball would be scuffed up even before it had in Australia. There is a possibility that the pink ball will start showing black spots, which might be hard for the batsmen to negotiate under lights.

Adam Voges was one of the batsmen who had spoken against the pink ball’s tendency of getting “chewed up”, saying, “There wasn’t much pink left on it at the end of the game.”

Sourav Ganguly has promised in the lead-up to the CAB Super League final that special care has been taken to increase the longevity of the pink ball. The ground has been specially conditioned, the practice pitches have been made green.

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