'Beginning of something special' – India v Bangladesh Test at Eden Gardens to be day-night affair

The BCB has agreed to the BCCI’s request for the second Test between India and Bangladesh to be a day-night fixture at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

“I’m pleased to announce that our long-term partner BCB has graciously agreed to play a day-night Test match,” BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who has spoken about day-night affairs as “a way forward” when it comes to bringing people to the stadiums to watch Test cricket, said in a statement released by the BCCI. “This is the beginning of something special in Indian cricket. It is a priority for the newly elected Office Bearers and members of Apex Council to take Indian cricket forward.

“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. In this effort of ours, day-night Test cricket is a huge step forward and we believe it will bring back the crowd into stadiums and a whole lot of young children to the sport. I am extremely honoured that the Eden Gardens will host the inaugural day-night Test match and the Cricket Association of Bengal will create a spectacle for everyone to watch.”

The development comes less than a week after Ganguly took charge of the BCCI, and the BCB, despite the Bangladesh cricketers having played almost no day-night multi-day cricket – true of the Indians too – played ball.

“I thank the Bangladesh Cricket Board President Mr. Nazmul Hassan and his team for accepting our request on such a short notice. I also thank India captain Mr. Virat Kohli for his co-operation,” Ganguly said.

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Hassan acknowledged the “very long history of support, co-operation and friendship” between the two boards, saying in the same statement, “Ours is a bond of strength and it is very heartening and reassuring for the BCB to have someone like Mr Ganguly as BCCI President who has been an integral part of this journey.”

Bangladesh’s decision to go ahead with the pink-ball Test came after discussions between the board and the players.

“I am pleased that we have had a frank and constructive discussion with the players and the team management. I have received a positive response about playing the day-night Test in view of the BCB-BCCI relationship,” Hassan said.

That the Bangladesh team would play the Kolkata Test as a day-night contest had actually become clear when head coach Russell Domingo addressed a press conference in Mirpur on Tuesday, the same day their Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan was banned by the ICC for two years (one year suspended) for not reporting bookie approaches to the concerned authorities.

“As a coach and some players and all the other senior players, we think it’s a great opportunity and I don’t think India have played a pink-ball Test before,” Domingo said. “We haven’t played a pink-ball Test and it’s a great occasion at Eden Gardens and it will be a new experience for both teams. So, we’re excited and it’s going to be a great occasion under lights at Kolkata against probably the best team in the world.

“We’re really looking forward to the challenge. We’re not going to have a lot of time to prepare with the pink ball but it’s the same for India.”

One of the major concerns for Bangladesh was their lack of match practice with the pink balls that are used in day-night Tests – only one match has been played in the country with them, the first-class Bangladesh Cricket League final in February 2013.

While Domingo acknowledged those concerns, he reckoned the “uncertainty” surrounding the pink-ball Test might tilt the scales in Bangladesh’s favour.

“We know India are a good Test team, they’re the No. 1 Test team in the world, but the uncertainty of playing a pink-ball Test – both teams don’t quite know what to expect – could work in our advantage,” he said. “The way the game’s going, we need to try new things at certain times and we’re excited by it.

“I’ve spoken to the players and for sure there have been some concerns and some guys have said: ‘Oh! We don’t know, two [four] days between the first and second Test’.”

Domingo, though, has been part of a day-night Test before, in 2016, when he was the coach of the South Africa team that faced Australia at Adelaide Oval. Domingo hoped that experience would assist him in Kolkata.

“In my time at South Africa, we played a pink-ball Test in Adelaide, but we had a warm-up game before that and we had a few sessions with the pink ball leading into the Test match,” Domingo recalled. “I have some experience when it has happened with the pink ball, so hopefully we can share the information and that’s the advantage for us.”

Shakib’s ban is a massive blow to a side that is already depleted by the absence of Tamim Iqbal, who has pulled out of the entire tour of India as his wife is expecting their second child later this month.

India and Bangladesh are the only Full Members apart from Afghanistan and Ireland to have not played a day-night Test yet.

The Eden Gardens Test is scheduled to begin on November 22, with the series of three T20Is (Delhi – November 3, Rajkot – November 7, and Nagpur – November 10) and the first Test, in Indore from November 14, preceding it.

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