The iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata is set to make history on November 22 by hosting the first-ever day-night pink ball Test match to be played on Indian soil , in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the likely attendance of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Preparations are on in full swing for the match against Bangladesh. The stadium is undergoing renovation, the order has been placed for pink balls, and hotels are being contacted to lodge guests invited for the event including former players from both countries. Finding accommodation for them is turning out to be difficult though, because this is the most visitor-friendly time of the year in Kolkata and all five-star hotels within the city limits are already booked to capacity.
Eden Gardens, whose ownership lies with the Army and which was leased exclusively to the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in 1987, is not entirely new to the pink ball. First division leagues have been using it in their finals for the past three seasons, but those balls were manufactured by Kookaburra of Australia. The pink balls for the upcoming Test are being made by Sanspareils Greenlands (SG) of Meerut.
According to CAB secretary Avishek Dalmiya, play will start each day at 1 p.m., and by the time it resumes at 3.40 p.m. after lunch break at 3, the floodlights would have come on. After tea break at 5.40 p.m., the final session will stretch from 6 to 8 p.m.
Daily ticket prices slashed
“This will allow the spectators to get back home in time. What’s more, we have even reduced the price of daily tickets; the lowest denomination being just Rs. 50, and the highest Rs. 150. You spend a lot more when you go out to watch a movie, whereas this is a historic game,” Mr. Dalmiya said.
The whole idea behind this day-night match is, after all, to get the spectator, who now finds the shorter formats of the game more engaging, interested in Tests once again. And the idea is credited to former captain Sourav Ganguly, a former CAB president and currently the BCCI chief.
“Test cricket is not only the purest form of cricket but is also the real test of cricketing skills. If the public interest in Tests sags, the cricketers also will concentrate more on the shorter formats. So this step was essential,” Mr. Dalmiya said.
“[Sourav Ganguly] recognises that people, in this day and age, may find it difficult to take five days of break from work, but they might return to the stadium if matches are held beyond office hours. So what you are going to see is a transformation of the good-old Test cricket to modern-day Test cricket,” he said.
Remembering Eden Gardens 2001
This being Eden Gardens, and with Mr. Ganguly now at the helm of the country’s top cricket body, the match will also celebrate his success as a captain. On Day 3 of the match, a special event will be held to commemorate India’s 171-run victory against Australia at the same venue in March 2001. Many of the top players who were part of the Indian team for that historic match have been invited to share their memories of it, including Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, have been invited to share their memories of it.
“That victory transformed the Indian team into Team India. We need to revisit that,” said Mr. Dalmiya.