Day-night Test cricket evokes two very different kind of reactions. For the fans, it is a moment to celebrate. Heck, the administrators are going all in. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is personally overseeing everything at Eden Gardens. So if you’re loving the pretty pink balloon hovering over the ground, you know who to @.
For the players themselves, it seems a little like stepping into the utterly unknown. A lot of people are saying a lot of things and all of it is about the way the pink ball will behave. Sachin Tendulkar says dew will affect it massively. Virat Kohli doesn’t know what will happen when the shine goes off. R Ashwin is already preparing to go big with his arm balls because it may not turn enough. Bangladesh’s batsmen, meanwhile, devoted a part of their training session to just watch the shiny little thing as it goes past them.
The funny thing is day-night Test cricket has been around for four years now. Practically every other team has been part of the revolution. So there is information out there.
ALSO READ: What’s the big deal with pink-ball Tests
In Indore, Bangladesh were way off the pace. In Kolkata, they need to make the most of every opportunity. The top order, which couldn’t handle the red ball, has to find a way to negotiate the pink one even though it swings way more. It’s the only way they’ll have set batsmen at the crease when it stops moving around. Because that might be the best time for Bangladesh to take advantage of the whole day-night situation – India would usually turn to their spinners at this point in a regular day Test, but if Ashwin’s suspicions are correct, not to mention Tendulkar’s warning about the dew, a very potent bowling attack with the old ball might end up short on answers.
The only problem is it’s hard to picture all of India’s bowlers suddenly being negated just because of a change of ball. You’d think Ishant Sharma is too experienced not to adapt. You’d think Mohammed Shami will just bowl full and fast and straight and break every set of stumps in front of him. You’d think Ashwin will beat the batsman in the air if he can’t do them off the pitch.
Virat Kohli has contingencies galore and an opposition already under the pump. If India get it right despite the unfamiliar playing conditions, this might not be pretty.
India WWWWW (last five Tests, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Neither of the Bangladesh openers made more than 6 runs per innings in Indore. Under normal circumstances, one of Imrul Kayes and Shadman Islam might have given way for this Test match. Getting a good start is far too important, especially against stronger opposition, but the man who could have replaced them is out injured. Saif Hassan hurt his hand while taking a catch in Indore and it’s probably cost him an international debut on one of the more grand occasions. Kayes and Shadman are on borrowed time. They have to make use of it.
R Ashwin is fun in front of the mic, especially when he’s apparently giving away his plans. During a home series against England in 2016, he seemed to have complete control of Ben Duckett, to the point he was predicting the batsman’s next moves. “I’m very sure he’s going to thrust his pad forward the next innings,” he said. “I’m looking forward to try and play on his confusion.” This time he fronted up on live TV and said he was focusing on the arm ball because the pink ball doesn’t really turn. It’s all set up for those big-turning offbreaks, isn’t it?
India had most bases covered in the first Test and might well stick with the same XI that beat Bangladesh by an innings and 130 runs.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 R Ashwin, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Mohammed Shami
Bangladesh are likely to bring in Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain in place of Taijul Islam and Ebadot Hossain. They don’t have any reserve batsmen to bring into the line-up, although indications are that Mushfiqur Rahim will go back up to the No. 4 position.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Shadman Islam, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Mominul Haque (capt), 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Mohammad Mithun, 7 Liton Das (wk), 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Taijul Islam/Mustafizur Rahman, 10 Abu Jayed, 11 Ebadat Hossain/Al-Amin Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The pink ball is a fairly precious thing. Using one in a game means the pitch has to be a bit green and the outfield fairly lush. Otherwise it gets scuffed up and as a result hard to see when night sets in. That’s partly why seam bowlers have bowled twice as many overs and picked up nearly three times as many wickets as spinners in this version of Test cricket. Expect that to continue at Eden.
The weather is set fair for all five days of the game.
Stats and trivia
- This Test is going to be all about fast bowling and that’s bad news for Bangladesh because theirs have the worst bowling average and strike rate in the last five years.
- Mayank Agarwal has made 858 runs since his debut in December 2018. That makes him the highest scorer in Test cricket over the last 11 months.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.