India played their first pink ball Test against Bangladesh at Eden Gardens in 2019
The first pink-ball Test match was played between the Trans-Tasman neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, from 27 November to 1 December, 2015. Not only was the colour of the ball different but also the conditions, which provided support for the quick bowlers. India were initially not keen to play day-night Test matches. They cited their limited exposure of their players to the pink ball as the key reason. However, slowly the idea caught their attention, and a few Duleep Trophy matches were played under floodlights. Finally, exactly four years after the first floodlit Test match, India invited Bangladesh to explore the unknown territory.
India v Bangladesh, 2019/20
Bangladesh had hosted their first eight Test matches against India. They played once in Hyderabad in 2016/17 before returning for a two-Test series in 2019/20. After a convincing win by India in Indore, the teams met in Kolkata for the second match, at Eden Gardens. The added attraction this time was the first pink-ball Test match for both competing teams.
On November 22, Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque won the toss and opted to bat. Bangladesh were missing two experienced players in Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, while India rested Jasprit Bumrah.
Bumrah’s absence was not felt as Indian pace trio of Ishant Sharma (5-22), Umesh Yadav (3-29), and Mohammed Shami (2-36) demolished the Bangladesh batting line-up to get them all-out for 106 in just 30.3 overs. Shadman Islam top-scored with 29.
Bangladesh suffered a further blow when Liton Das was injured. With no wicketkeeper or specialist batsman in the squad, replaced by concussion substitute Mahidy Hasan Miraz, who was not allowed to bowl. Nayeem Hasan was later substituted by Taijul Islam, which made it the first instance of two concussion substitutes being used in the same Test match. Questions were raised over the visibility of the new ball.
The Indian response of 347/9 seemed more impressive on paper. Virat Kohli scored 136, while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane provided support. But they also lost four wickets nine overs with the second new ball.
Bangladesh did better in the second innings (195), but that was largely due to Mushfiqur Rahim’s counterattacking 74. The rest capitulated against Umesh (5-53) and Ishant (4-56).
India v Australia, 2020/21
India’s second pink-ball Test was another memorable performance by Kohli’s men, albeit in the other extreme. The Indians were playing their first Test match after months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
After playing the IPL in the UAE, India traveled to Australia for a three-format tour. They lost the ODIs but won the T20Is, and the stage was set for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It was the only Test match Kohli would play on the tour before leaving for India to avail his paternity leave.
Kohli chose to bat after winning the toss, and India began the series by losing Prithvi Shaw to the second ball. As in Kolkata, Kohli top-scored with 74 before being unfortunately run out. Again, as in Kolkata, support came from Pujara and Rahane, this time with forties. India were bowled out for 244, with Mitchell Starc claiming 4-53 and Pat Cummins 3-48.
R Ashwin (4-55) led India’s comeback. They nearly had Australia on the mat before Tim Paine (73) helped them recover to 191. India resumed Day 3 on 9/1, looking to stretch their lead of 62 as much as possible.
It was over in a little over an hour’s cricket as India slumped to 36 all out, their lowest total in Test cricket. They lasted a mere 21.2 overs against Josh Hazlewood (5-8) and Cummins (4-21), who found the edge at will, and the fielders, who did not let anything go beyond them. Not one Indian batsman made it to double digits.
Australia won by eight wickets. However, India’s incredible performance in the subsequent Tests helped them put the abysmal low behind.
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