On the previous tour of Australia, during which India created history by winning their first-ever Test series Down Under, the visitors had refused to play a Day-Night Test at Adelaide. Indian skipper Virat Kohli later explained that India hadn’t had practice with the pink ball, and hence couldn’t go into the big series without adequate preparation. Till a few years back, India did not seem a great fan of the pink-ball challenge, even as most other countries were embracing it. All that has changed drastically with Sourav Ganguly’s latest comeback into Indian cricket, this time as BCCI President.
It was Ganguly who convinced Kohli to play India’s first-ever Day-Night Test against Bangladesh at Kolkata last November. At the peak of the excitement over India’s maiden pink-ball Test, Australia’s Tes captain Tim Paine, known for his subtle humour, took a dig at Kohli over India’s chances of playing a Day-Night Test in Australia.
“We'll ask Virat and see if we can get his permission to play here and maybe even get a Pink-ball Test if he's in a good mood. So we'll wait and see,” Paine had famously stated during an interaction with journalists.
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At the start of this year, Kohli had stated that India are ready to play Day-Night Tests away from home. “We played the day & night test here (India), we are happy with how it went. It has become a very exciting feature of any test series, we are open to playing day & night tests. We are ready for the challenge,” Kohli replied when asked about his views on playing pink-ball Tests away from India.
And now, walking the talk, India have agreed to feature in a D/N Test encounter during the upcoming tour of Australia, most probably at Adelaide. That’s not all, India are also likely to play a Day-Night Test at home, against England at Ahmedabad during the team’s visit to the country early next year. India’s decision to agree on featuring in a pink-ball Test in Australia is a undoubtedly a progressive one. Day-Night Tests are the future of the sport, and teams have understood that. While a lot of challenges exist, the crowds are beginning to get drawn towards the change.
The Indians are currently the top-ranked side in the traditional version of the sport. As such, they should be prepared to take any challenge on head on. Unlike last time, when India had to deal with a weak Aussie line-up, the state of affairs will be different when India visit Australia towards the end of the year. Unless there are injury and fitness concerns, the hosts will have the services of both David Warner and Steve Smith. Further, the Indians will also have to contend with the opponent’s latest run-machine Marnus Labuschagne. A strengthened batting line-up will make Australia’s potent bowling line-up all the more dangerous.
That’s not all though. India will also have to deal with Australia’s invincible record in Day-Night Test matches. Australia have so far featured in seven pink-ball Tests, four of them at Adelaide, and have won and every and every one of them. As such, the hosts will be the favourites to win the D/N encounter when India and Australia clash, possibly at Adelaide. But, if India want to continue justifying their World No.1 tag, they will need to conquer most challenges that came their way.
The previous occasion India held the number one ranking in Tests, under MS Dhoni, India ended up getting brutalised in England and Australia. It left quite a hollow feeling as all of India most of India’s success had been achieved at home. Under Kohli, India have already broken the barrier Down Under. But, a triumph against a full-length Aussies, with conditions favouring the hosts, and an enticing Day-Night challenge thrown, will be something else.Published 21 Feb 2020, 13:48 IST