Make pink-ball tests the exception, not the rule, says Kohli

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KOLKATA, India: Day-night matches have helped rejuvenate the game’s longest format but test cricket should not be bound by the latest trends and must instead focus on the battle of wills between batsman and bowler, India captain Virat Kohli said on Thursday.

India have been the only major full-member nation not to have played a day-night test, a concept which pundits say will help address dwindling attendance in most test venues.

Kohli’s men will finally take the pink-ball plunge on Friday at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens against a Bangladesh team who will also be playing their maiden day-night test.

Kohli is all for innovation but dreads the idea of twisting test cricket to pander to popular tastes.

“In my opinion, this should not become the only way test cricket is played,” the 31-year-old told reporters ahead of the second and final test against Bangladesh.

“Because then you are losing out on that nervousness of the first session in the morning.

“You can bring excitement into test cricket but you can’t purely make test cricket based on just entertainment.

“Entertainment of test cricket lies in the fact that a batsman is trying to survive a session and the bowler is trying to set a batsman out. If people don’t respond to that, too bad.”

Not every fan will appreciate the nuances of the longest format and it would be futile to try to convert them, he said.

“If someone gets excitement from watching the battle between bat and ball and a great session of test cricket, in my opinion those are the people that should come and watch test cricket because they understand what’s going on.”

“I think (day-night tests) can be a one-off thing, it should not be a regular scenario.”

The visibility of the pink ball and its exaggerated swing might make batsmen particularly vulnerable in the channel outside the off-stump, Kohli said.

“Your idea of off-stump, that’s going to be the most crucial thing,” he added. “When we practised yesterday, we felt that the ball could be closer to you but it’s actually not that close to the off-stump. One has to be careful in that channel.”

The biggest challenge however would be for the fielders, said Kohli.

“In the slip, the ball hit your hand so hard, it almost felt like a heavy hockey ball …

“It’s definitely much more harder and, for some reason, it felt a little heavier. Even the throws took a lot more effort to reach the keeper.”

Kohli would not be surprised if fielders drop an odd skier in the match either.

“During the day, high catches would be very difficult,” he said.

“With red ball and white ball, you catch with an idea of knowing how fast the ball is coming down. But this time, if you don’t look at the ball in your palm, it’s gone.”

Bangladesh counterpart Mominul Haque agreed with Kohli’s assessment of the ball.

“The glaze of the ball will make it tricky for the batsmen who must be focused 100% each and every ball.”

“Because of the shine and hardness, the pink ball flies faster … We have practiced a few times. I think it’s better if we don’t think too much about it.”

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