Exploited by invaders and colonizers for centuries, we Indians are genetically sceptical towards change. The attitude has sieved into cricket governance even after having the most successful and the most authoritative cricket body in the world.
The lack of resources delayed the ODI homecoming for India by 10 years – first ODI was played in 1971 in Australia and in 1981 in India – and the first day-night ODI by five years, 1979 in Australia and 1984 in India. Even after attaining economic mojo in the last quarter of the century, especially when it comes to cricketonomics, the resistance continued for upgrades like T20 and the use of DRS.
A delayed acceptance, however, had no impact on embracing the adoption. Even after a 10-year deficit, India has hosted the third most ODIs only 18 behind the second on the list - England (473). For T20s, after playing the format for the first time in 2007 at domestic level (4 years after the initiators England), India’s T20 brainchild is the cynosure of all global T20 competitions. India has also hosted the second most T20Is (83) only behind UAE’s tally of 163 - that includes many multi-country ICC qualifier matches.
Now after nearly four years and 11 such Tests later, India is all set to host and play its first-ever day-night Test. According to Sourav Ganguly, the current BCCI President, Virat Kohli took just three seconds to give his affirmative for this occasion.
Ganguly, with his approach of getting things done and a sense of pride in leadership, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the occasion on his home ground is nothing short of grandeur. With para-troopers expected to fly in to deliver match-balls, Indian sporting legends to lap around the stadium and a special programme with match-winners from what John Wright called as ‘the greatest comeback since Lazarus’ against Australia in 2001, Ganguly has set the ball rolling to warrant ceremonial inception of day-night Tests in India.
At the time when the spectators in the stands for Test cricket are strikingly low, the first three days of the second Test in the stadium with a capacity of 68,000 (second highest in the world) are sold out. With the ex-Indian captain at the helm of BCCI and the team captain vocal in his support for Test cricket’s health, the game’s new white-jersey endeavour is already off to a blockbuster opening-weekend. The sceptics are quick to embrace the change yet again.
On the eve of his 48th birthday, while reflecting on his career two decades on from his first Test, Adam Gilchrist described their series win in India in 2004 akin to conquering the Holy Grail. A little under a decade after that, India began a transition that turned its home record into an envy of the cricketing fraternity. With 11 straight home series wins since February 2013, India has dethroned the Australians to hold the record for most consecutive series wins at home. “We will judge ourselves as a great cricket team if we beat India in India”, Australia’s coach, Justin Langer, said while describing his ultimate goal to win the series here in 2022.
For a nation competing at home where a handful of left-arm spinners, each not very different from the other, are enough to bore the opposition to give away 20 wickets, Bangladesh’s chances in the toughest assignment in cricket since the turn of the century looked bleak. The chances reduced to iota after losing their two main players at the beginning of the tour.
Even after dropping twice as many catches as Bangladesh in the first Test, India demolished them in under three days, saving the final two to practice with the pink-ball under lights.
With only one fifty-plus score - by Mushfiqur Rahim who is carrying the burden of 10-other men - Bangladesh succumbed to India’s phenomenal pace battery that shared 14 wickets between them. Earmarked to assist the pacers with an enhanced swing, the pink ball is all set to bring a fresh set of challenges for fragile Bangladesh batting line-up against an Indian pace battery that continues to break the tradition on Indian pitches.
The paucity of home games on the spin-friendly wickets is proving to be fatal for Bangladesh bowlers. Abu Jayed was the only one to test the Indian batting prowess. A team struggling with the two main facets of the game did not help itself in the field with two drop-chances, a significant one of Mayank Agarwal when he was in his 30s.
Talking about Agarwal, initiating his career with a purple patch, he comfortably outscored what Bangladesh scored in each innings. Like a Federer forehand, Messi free-kick, Agarwal’s effortless sixes down the ground off off-spinners are becoming a sight to behold.
The only ray of hope for Bangladesh lies in the inexperience of India’s batsmen with the pink ball. A Duleep trophy day-night match way back in 2016 did feature Rohit Sharma, Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara – who knocked up 256* - but, others had a bat with it for the first time ever only after the fixture was announced.
Indian batsmen’s inexperience, however, can at best result in dampening the troubles of Bangladesh’s bowlers. The overall encounter remains lopsided, as India seems well placed to extend their record run on the last Test of the home season with a capacity crowd on their side on a historic occasion.