Night cricket in India? Not so fast
INDIA’S experiment with the pink ball in the Duleep Trophy domestic championship met with major embarrassment after floodlight failure interrupted play for over an hour in the day-night match on August 23.
The Duleep Trophy, a four-day triangular competition which traditionally heralds the start of the Indian cricket season, is seen as a possible precursor to day-night Tests in cricket’s biggest market.
But the first match on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi witnessed three of the six light towers go out twice in the post dinner session, forcing the players to leave the field.
The first interruption happened just after the dinner interval when play was delayed by 17 minutes due to insufficient light while the second break stretched to about 50 minutes.
The organisers refused to answer any queries after the fiasco as play carried on well past 9pm, the original time for end of play.
“There was some problem in the main electrical circuit of the floodlights, which was tripping,” a ground official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Earlier the players taking part in the day’s match, between teams that have been rebranded India Red and India Green, were excited at the prospect of the longest format of the game also being played after dark in India.
“I think it is pretty exciting and something to look forward to,” said veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who has enjoyed great success for the national team under lights in ODI and T20 cricket.
“The New Zealand-Australia Test match [first day-night Test played in Adelaide last year] I saw was pretty exciting. The ball was swinging a bit much. It will be challenging if it swings a lot, playing under lights,” added Singh, who is captaining India Red.
Suresh Raina, the captain of India Green who is trying to force his way back into the Indian team, was similarly enthusiastic.
“The Duleep Trophy has not been played with the pink ball before and it’s a good challenge. All the boys are keen [to perform] and this is a good platform ahead of the season,” said Raina.
Singh’s team won the toss and chose to bat first in the afternoon in front of a cheering crowd who had filed in to watch a piece of cricketing history.
“It’s a novel idea. Local people are eager to watch the pink ball game under lights. We are just hoping that all goes well,” Rajeev Tyagi, one of the ground’s administrators, told AFP before the floodlight failure.
India had been expected to stage their first day-night Test during a tour by New Zealand starting next month. But the plans were shelved to give more time for trials of the pink Kookaburra ball.
Designers say the pink ball is far more visible under lights than the red ball that has traditionally been used in Tests. The white ball used in limited-overs cricket is not viable for Tests as it clashes with the players’ white clothing and sight screens as well as being less durable.
The Australia-New Zealand match is the only Test so far to have been played under lights. But Pakistan are also set to stage day/night contests against Australia and the West Indies in the Gulf later this year.
India, who have just been toppled by Pakistan at the top of the rankings, are about to embark on an extensive round of Test match cricket by hosting series against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.
While India’s ODI and T20 matches are usually played in front of packed houses, Tests are only rarely sold out. –
Cricketers walk back to the pavilion as some of the stadium lights go off during a Duleep Trophy cricket match between India Green and India Red in Greater Noida on August 23.