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Hysteria aside, India eye series sweep against Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Kolkata: The hysteria surrounding the country’s first Day-Night Test on Indian soil will try hard to mask the gulf between India and Bangladesh, but when the two teams meet for the second time in the two-match series, the possibility of a lopsided contest will loom large over a decked-up Eden Gardens on Friday.

India, perched comfortably at the top of the ICC World Championship points table, thrashed Bangladesh by an innings and 130 runs in the first Test in Indore a week back.

The match got over inside three days and the home team’s dominance was summed up by the fact that opener Mayank Agarwal’s first innings score of 243 was more than Bangladesh’s two totals of 150 and 213.

Virat Kohli’s side, ranked number one in the longest format, has so far won all their six matches since the start of the Test Championship, whitewashing West Indies and South Africa in their last two series.

They are hot favourites to walk away with another clean-sweep against a side which lost to Test newcomers Afghanistan in their last outing.

To add to their woes, all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan, arguably Bangladesh’s finest cricketer of all time, was handed a two-year ban by the ICC for failing to report corrupt approaches just before the India tour, while players traveled in the backdrop of a rift with the cricket board.

But ever since the BCCI’s idea to host a maiden pink-ball Test came to life about three weeks ago, all the focus has been around the ‘event’ with BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, the man behind making it happen, promising a spectacle.

The first day will kickstart with Army paratroopers expected to fly into Eden to hand over a pink ball each to the two captains just before the toss, in front of top politicians, legendary sportspersons and a packed stadium.

Historically, Australia, the only country to fully adopt the pink ball, report excellent viewership numbers for day-night Tests, but three days before the first experiment in India, Ganguly had said that tickets for the first four days have been sold out.

Every pink-ball Test so far has had a result. The twilight period is tricky when batsmen have to adapt from natural light to the floodlights, and as a result, a lot of wickets have been claimed during that time in the 11 Test matches played so far.

India arrived late to the party, primarily due to evening dew in this part of the world, what an SG pink ball might do, a lack of reverse-swing and the visibility of the ball. Pink Kookaburra balls were trialed during the 2016 Duleep Trophy but received mixed reviews from the players.

The Eden Test will have an SG ball and it remains to be seen how it behaves. As far as the dew is concerned, a 1 pm start is believed to be the solution.

On the reverse-swing part, Indian pacers have been nothing short of exemplary in the last couple of years and even without injured Jasprit Bumrah, the likes of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav possess enough firepower to belittle Bangladesh. In the first Test, a red hot Shami snared seven wickets while Ishant and Umesh bagged three and four scalps respectively.

The “twilight zone” will be an interesting challenge for the Indian batters, especially Kohli who has no pink ball experience at any level. IANS

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