Ahmedabad: Slowly but surely, the grass on the pitch of the reconstructed Motera stadium has been shaved off over the last four days going by the images posted by the England team's media wing, leaving it only a guess as to how long the pink ball will last on a surface that has only a few patches of grass left now.
The red ball's behaviour on this pitch would have been easier to guess but with pink ball to be used for the third Test between India and England, no one knows how it will behave. The four-match Test series is currently tied 1-1, and the lone berth available for the World Test Championship final is at stake for both teams in the last two Tests. New Zealand have already qualified for the final, to be played in June at Lord's, London.
On Tuesday, the eve of the first Test, India skipper Virat Kohli said that despite the wicket helping spinners, there will surely be help for seam bowlers especially due to the pink ball doing more than the usual red ball and also because unlike the day game, the day-night games involve the twilight period.
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Both Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara have this week said that they can't predict how the pink ball will behave but they will have to be cautious during the twilight period, i.e. when the sun sets and temperatures drop, especially against a new ball.
The shine on the pink ball lasts longer.
"Generally the shine on pink ball lasts longer because it has multiple coatings of pigment since the pink dyed leather is dull unlike the red dyed leather (in case of red ball) which is bright. On a pink ball, there are two coats of base layer (which is colourless) and a further four coats of pink colour after which a coat of lacquer is applied. That is the reason why the shine on pink ball lasts longer than the red ball. First the lacquer goes, then the first layer, second layer etc," explained Paras Anand, marketing director of Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), to IANS.
Meerut-based SG manufactures balls for Test cricket in India, besides domestic tournaments.
"On the red ball, however, there are no coats of colour. Only the leather is dyed red. After that only lacquer is applied to give it shine," Anand said.
While the pink ball's shine generally lasts for 20-25 overs, the red ball's shine on a similar wicket lasts for only 10-15 overs, he says.
It means that with pink ball, the faster bowler will get a lot more overs as they will be asked to make use of the shine.
As per the guesses doing the rounds, the Motera wicket without good amount of grass may scuff up the pink ball in much faster than 25 overs. However, that remains to be seen.
Experts have said that a fresh pink ball taken in twilight session may last longer because of the dew which ensures the ball doesn't get as scuffed up, leading to fast bowlers bowling more overs.
Interestingly, while the manufacturing process of the three Test ball producing companies - SG, Kookaburra, and Dukes - are different in some ways in manufacturing the red ball, the process of manufacturing the pink remains the same for all three. They have to put layer upon layer of pigment to ensure that the pink becomes fluorescent and bright and can be sighted. It, by default, results in fast bowlers getting more overs.