The first ever day and night test match in India was recently concluded at the Eden Gardens Ground in Kolkata. The fact that India won the match comprehensively, made things even better for the home crowd. The contest wrapped up in the third day as Bangladesh's challenge fizzled out in the face of India's power-packed performance.
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) could successfully make the first pink ball test a grand affair. Ticket sales had started online and tickets for the first three days were sold out quickly. Former India fast bowler AshokeDinda spoke to BE on the eve of the match, “Obviously it's a big occasion. A day-night test match is going to be played for the first time in India. It's a brilliant initiative by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The players will also be excited. The interest among the spectators will also be very high.”
Ever since Sourav Ganguly took over as the BCCI President there was a sense of anticipation. Almost immediately, Ganguly ensured that India, originally unwilling to play pink ball cricket, would open up to the new format. The match was tactfully arranged to begin on a Friday, aiming to capitalise on the ensuing weekend for maximisation of ticket sales.
Dinda added, “The BCCI took this initiative of organising a pink ball test to bring back cricket lovers to the ground. Like the fans, many players too are more focused on T20, IPL and limited overs cricket. Day-night test matches are exciting for cricketers and fans alike as there is a lot of intrigue surrounding the pink ball.”
The CAB had tweeted before the match, “More than 50,000 people to witness India’s first Pink Ball D/N Test at Eden Gardens each day for first three days as demand for tickets shoots through the roof.”
According to a CAB official, “Out of the 50,000 tickets, 17000 were sold online while the remaining tickets were distributed among affiliated members.” The 16000 tickets that remained after November 14 went for counter sales. The CAB also invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who attended the match and rang the bell before the start of play along with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Former Indian cricketing greats took a lap around the stadium while Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh had an engaging chat, reminiscing India's famous victory over Australia in 2001 at the same venue. Former players from the first ever test match between India and Bangladesh, played in 2000, were also invited.
The city had taken to the ‘pink test’ as prominent city landmarks were illumined in pinkish hues to commemorate the match. Biswajit Chatterjee, a cricket lover and former cricket himself informed BE, “Test matches are the purest form of the sport and the pink ball test has just given a dose of fresh oxygen to the longer, purer form of cricket.” Chatterjee is presently associated with a corporate cricket club called the Calcutta Champions, which aims to promote the sport among corporate professionals.
Coming to the match itself, Bangladesh had got off to a bright start, winning the toss and choosing to bat first. However, that was the only positive for Bangladesh in the entire contest. Kohli notched up his 27th test hundred and 70th international century claiming yet another milestone. However, there seemed to be some issues with sighting the pink ball during the twilight periods. Another striking feature of the match was how many times the Bangladesh batsmen got hit. There were two concussion substitutes for the visitors.
The interest that was generated around this test match testifies to the success of this endeavour.