Dubai: Come November 22, Eden Gardens will once again be a part of India’s tryst with destiny in cricket.
More than 25 years after the hallowed turf played its first match under floodlights in the six-nation Hero Cup, it will host the country’s first-ever day-night Test match against Bangladesh.
The novelty of watching players locked in a duel in whites under the lights may have worn off somewhat over the last four years (Australia and New Zealand had first set the ball rolling in Adelaide in 2015) while the upcoming one will be the 12th such day-night Test.
However, India had strongly opposed the concept all along — designed to bring in the crowds for the five-day format — until the newly elected BCCI President Sourav Ganguly thought otherwise and convinced skipper Virat Kohli to play ball.
“This is the beginning of something special in Indian cricket. For me, as former captain of India and as the current President of BCCI, Test cricket is of utmost priority and we at BCCI will leave no stone unturned to bring this format back to its feet,’’ announced a proud Ganguly only two weeks back — and it had been all systems go since then for the hosts Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
While Ganguly had gone ahead a step further to suggest that he hopes to stage at least one day-night Test match per year, a lot depends on the players’ comfort level with the pink ball as well as the crowd response in the City of Joy.
Speaking to Gulf News from Kolkata, Abhishek Dalmiya, secretary of CAB said that the curiosity value and the historic nature of the contest is playing a big role to ensure that the Eden wears a full look on the first three days.
“More than 50,000 people are expected to be present on each of the first three days as demand for tickets is quite unprecedented,” said Dalmiya, son of the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, a legendary administrator of Indian and world cricket and an inseparable entity from the CAB.
For Abhishek, there is of course a strong emotional connect with the Eden being privy to another historic occasion. “I still remember the sense of pride in my father’s face as Eden was hosting it’s first-ever floodlit game at the Hero Cup. It’s a privilege for me to be able to be associated with a landmark moment in Indian cricket,” Dalmiya said.
While the CAB is pulling out on all stops to make the event a diplomatic coup — what with the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of Bengal scheduled to ring in the ceremonial bell to start first day’s play — there have been some concerns on the cricketing front about the day-night contest. The Indian team have had a few rounds of practice with the pink SG ball even on the eve of first Test match at Indore get accustomed to it’s bounce and movement, while the dew factor in Kolkata is expected to cause a few worries for the bowlers.
Sachin Tendulkar, who will be one of the guests of honour on the opening day of the Test along with other members of the ‘Fab Five’ (Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble are the others apart from Tendulkar and Ganguly), was the first one to voice his concerns about the dew factor in the closing session of play. Playing down such apprehension, Dalmiya however said: “Stumps are scheduled to be drawn each day at 8pm and we know from experience that the dew factor peaks only after that. The ground staff, however, will be ready with non-toxic anti-dew spray, super soppers and ropes to drain out any dew at the breaks.”