India vs Bangladesh 2019: Second Test a poor context for historic pink-ball encounter
As India raced to another facile innings victory against Bangladesh in the first Test at the Holkar Stadium in Indore, the focus squarely shifted to the actual spectacle that this mini-series is all about once the crucial announcement had been made.
That announcement does not concern the current standings of the two combatants in the World Test Championships or the respective strengths of the two teams but the revelation that the second Test in the series will be the first day-night engagement of the grand old format that will feature the putative heavyweights of the global game, India.
Automatically, it also becomes the first pink-ball Test to be played in the country and the fans of the game must thank the new BCCI president Sourav Ganguly for his proactive role in ensuring that the said event is taking place.
The board, along with the CAB and the host broadcasters have been publicising the match with a lot of enthusiasm. The venue cannot be more perfect. The name Eden Gardens instantly invokes romanticism and heritage and is one of the veritable meccas of the global game, a venue that has hosted several milestone matches and witnessed many momentous occasions in cricket history.
The passionate faithful that throng the stadium on match days have already lapped up all the online tickets and we are set for a houseful show. Clearly, all the hype surrounding the fixture has been successful in its objective, namely, securing its status as the cynosure of all eyes come D Day.
Much ado about...
However, as much as Ganguly's effort needs to be commended, one is compelled to think whether this is actually the right context for a match of such historic import. This, in turn, brings us to the precarious state of the global game where the competition seems limited to three big teams, namely India, England and Australia, especially at the highest level of the game. No surprises that these three also have the most financial clout amongst full ICC members.
Indeed, as much as sports is full of glorious uncertainties, one wonders if the Test will go the distance considering the utter domination that India have experienced in recent series. They steamrolled South Africa in their first engagement on home soil in the World Test Championship and literally crushed the hapless and depleted Bangladeshis within three days at Indore.
The home season is beginning to resemble a farce as far as competitive cricket is concerned. The behemoth that India is, led by their batting prowess and new-found pace precision, are just too good for their weakened visitors. This leads one to concerns whether it will all turn out to be damp squib in the end; pink ball or red ball.
One really hopes Bangladesh can compete at Eden and invoke the spirit of the aforementioned uncertainty that makes sports a compelling spectacle. However, this brings us to more pressing concerns about the game in general, do we really need this gulf between the best and the rest in the sport? Is it good for the game? One hastens to think that it is not and that cricket needs to empower its supposedly-weaker teams for it to continue having an appeal. The organisers might still be happy as the cash registers continue ringing for this historic match and India fans will be more than pleased with another easy victory; however, what about the health of the sport?