The opening day of the first pink-ball Test in India gave me goosebumps. It was exhilarating to watch upwards of 50,000 people throng the Eden Gardens to savour the occasion, making for an absolutely electric atmosphere.
It transported me back to my playing days when we fed off the energy of the crowd, especially during tough passages of play. It’s another matter that it’s been a long time since this Indian team under Virat Kohli has been seriously tested on the field.
It was a wonderful gesture on the part of the BCCI and the CAB to honour stalwarts of our great game, but it was equally gratifying to see champions from other disciplines also being feted for their contribution to Indian sport. I can see Sourav Ganguly’s distinctive hand behind several of the events of day one, an encouraging start to his stint as the BCCI President.
On the park, India played like the champions they are, putting in another exceptional collective display with two men from Delhi in the forefront. Ishant Sharma has been such a manful soldier for so many years now that it’s really nice to see him reap the rewards in the last three years or so. His lengths were impeccable — both in the first innings when India largely bowled in natural light and in the second, when under the floodlights, he pitched the ball further up in looking for the swing that would put men behind the stumps in business.
It was always on the cards that India’s pacers would call the shots, but Bangladesh have to be disappointed at the lack of application and fight shown by their batsmen. Admittedly, the conditions were challenging and the Indian attack is in a league of its own, but apart from the feisty Mushfiqur Rahim, no one seemed willing to put a price on his wicket. More than a second crushing loss in two Tests, this propensity to keel over ought to be a huge source of concern for the think-tank.
Bangladesh’s batsmen would do well to go back and look at Virat’s majestic compilation that took him to another Test hundred. I was in awe of the surety of his feet movement, especially when he took a long stride forward to play the cover drive with such felicity.
Before the Test, Virat had spoken of the need to concentrate fiercely, given the reputation of the pink ball and his lack of familiarity with it. He was true to his word, while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane chipped in with excellent support roles — just as Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav did behind Ishant Sharma.