In the recently concluded three-match Test series against South Africa, taking wickets with the soft ball was perhaps the only area in which India’s bowling attack was not at its best. The SG balls used in this country tend to get soft after 40 overs and make batting easier. Though the Proteas often lost a heap of wickets to the new ball which left them with hardly any option to take advantage of the older ball but still at times lower-order batter like Keshav Maharaj kept the bowlers at bay for a while.
However, on Thursday (November 14) during the Day 1 of the Indore Test against Bangladesh, Indian the bowlers triggered a collapse of 7 for 51 using the old ball, which can be considered as a significant improvement. On a greenish track, winning the toss and batting first, the visitors lost three early wickets for just 31 runs. It was followed by a steady 68-run fourth-wicket partnership between skipper Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim kept the Tigers on track.
When it seemed that both the Bangladesh batters had the measure of the conditions and in a position to stretch their innings further, the hosts struck back, with a 37-over old ball.
Mominul’s misjudgment of handling an in-drifter of Ravichandran Ashwin opened the floodgates for India. Then the reverse swing of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav were responsible for polishing off the rest of the batting line-up within the next 21 overs as from 99 for 3, Bangladesh were bowled out for 150.
“Generally in Test cricket over the years you see the ball gets soft and batsmen take advantage,” Ashwin said while commenting on his team’s performance with the old ball at the end of day’s play. “That’s why you hear the experts talk about it, cry over it inside the commentary box that give the first hour to the bowler and then try to accumulate runs. That’s generally the norm, you get through the new ball, and the ball gets soft, batting gets easier.
“It’s not like we haven’t bowled well in the past but today I thought there was a bit of nibble through the day, there was something in the pitch. Even when Bangladesh bowled, they got a few balls to go off the deck. the surface is a good sporting one, so hopefully tomorrow morning we can capitalize,” added the off-spinner, who took 2 for 43 in 16 overs on a pitch which hardly offered any turn for him.