Eden Gardens to host India’s first pink-ball match in June

India’s attempts to host a day-night Test has gained further ground with Eden Gardens set to host the country’s first pink-ball multi-day cricket match.

The final of the Super League, a local tournament in Bengal to help identify players for the state’s Ranji Trophy team, is expected to be played under lights from June 18 to 21. Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, hoped the “experiment” would help India host a day-night Test “in the near future”.

“Pink-ball cricket indeed is the way forward,” he told the Indian Express. “Test cricket’s popularity has been steadily declining and we must do something to arrest the slide. The pink-ball Test in Australia last year received an overwhelmingly positive response and we must embrace the change. The Super League final under lights is an experiment with an eye to hosting day-night Tests in the near future. I think it would be a very good experience.”

Ganguly is also the head of the BCCI technical committee that recommended the Duleep Trophy, an inter-zonal first-class tournament, be played with pink balls soon after then board secretary and current board president, Anurag Thakur, had announced plans to play a floodlit Test against New Zealand later this year. NZC, however, said a number of factors needed to be finalised before going through with the match.

Though cricket in India is usually played with the SG ball, the Super League final will be played with a pink Kookaburra, which requires a specific set of conditions to last.

There had been complaints that it deteriorated quickly and became difficult to pick up, from both batsmen and fielders, when it was trialled in the Sheffield Shield, Australia’s first-class tournament, before it was approved for the day-night Test in Adelaide in November 2015. The pitch for that game had to have a more-than-normal coating of grass to help delay the wear and tear of the ball, and it resulted in exaggerated lateral movement. Another concern with hosting a floodlit match, especially in India, is dew.

“Certain conditions are required for the pink ball to hold up for a substantial period,” CAB secretary Abhishek Dalmiya said. “We have spoken to Kookaburra’s subcontinent head and will follow the advice.”

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