Dubai: The theme is now pink in Kolkata at the moment. As Eden Gardens is all dressed up for the occasion to host India’s first-ever pink ball Test match against Bangladesh from Friday, the City of Joy is making sure that it’s not left out from sharing the festive mood.
From the Shaheed Minar (Martyr’s Monument), which is just about a stone’s throw from the iconic venue — to the upcoming tallest building in the city ‘42’ — several of the landmark and heritage buildings were lit up in pink as dusk settled on Wednesday to give the city a preview of what it would look like over the next five days. The tickets, I am told, are also a sell-out at least for the first three days.
Is the hype getting a bit over the top? Especially in light of the fact that day-night Tests have been around for four years now — with Dubai playing hosts to two of such Tests featuring Pakistan against West Indies and Sri Lanka, respectively. Well, you have to give Kolkata a bit of allowance for such madness as such is the character of the city.
If the populous, vibrant and often volatile city with a soul catches fancy about anything — be it the traditional dogfight between arch rival football clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, the annual book fair or film festival — the response is guaranteed to be an overwhelming one. Ask Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian captain and now President of the Indian cricket board who had been the prime mover behind this Test match — he is still a ruling deity and gets rock star treatment at 47 years — more than a decade after quitting international cricket.
It’s a job well begun so far for all parties concerned if the day-night Tests are to be the future in India. The contest at hand should be a somewhat even one to sustain the fans’ interest until a possible next fixture — as the proactive BCCI president has promised a minimum of one such Test per year. However, if a depleted Bangladesh fail to get their act together in alien conditions (neither of the participants have played a day-night Test before though), then people would start lose interest within the first two days.
There is, however, a lesson in the tremendous response of the fans in Kolkata for the BCCI mandarins. They have been historically cynical about new experiments in the game — be it the T20 format (yes, they were totally reluctant about participating in the World T20 before Mahendra Singh Dhoni made history with a new-look team in 2007), the Decision Review System and of course, the day-night Tests.
Virat Kohli’s men, in fact, could have played their first pink ball Test against Australia Down Under last year but preferred to duck the proposal on that occasion. However, once the X-factor of the pink ball, batting in twilight zone and the like wear off, it could be a different story. May be …