The Indian subcontinent’s first day-night Test was ushered in with pomp and circumstance at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday, when India and Bangladesh faced off in the second and final Test match of Bangladesh’s first multi-format tour of India. New Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly left no stone unturned in making it a memorable occasion, which was set in motion when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina -- invited as chief guest by Ganguly for the occasion -- rang the ceremonial bell to signal the start of the match.
The spectacle of cricketers dressed in white under floodlights, only the 12th such instance in cricket since the first day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide in 2015, unfolded over the next seven hours, the only dull aspect being Bangladesh’s play. In an utterly one-sided day of cricket, India ended a historic first day on 174 for three, 68 runs ahead of Bangladesh, who the hosts bowled out for 106 in just 30.3 overs.
Apart from the meek surrender of Bangladesh’s top order against India’s pace attack, it was a day to cherish for over 50,000 fans -- itself a triumph in modern Test cricket in the subcontinent -- scene who thronged the Eden Gardens for a special occasion. The day that started with players of both sides being introduced to Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and saw Indian legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman being paraded around the ground during the supper and tea intervals, ended with a concert featuring popular Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila. Along with many former Indian legends, all members of the Bangladesh team that played the country’s first Test against India in November 2000 were also invited.
There was much to celebrate for locals on the field too, but for those who made the trek from Bangladesh to support their team on a historic occasion, it was an abject affair.
Both teams were playing their first match with the pink ball, which is used for day-night Tests, as opposed to the traditional red ball used for the normal day matches. Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque chose to bat first upon winning the toss, and the wisdom of that choice comes under question after the lack of preparation with the ball was a theme leading up to the Test.
However, the exaggerated movement that the pink ball is said to offer came into play only after Bangladesh had been bowled out, when India were batting under lights. Following the 1:30pm start, Bangladesh had the best of the conditions as the ball did not swing much, but the likes of skipper Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim departed for ducks against a primed Indian pace attack comprising Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Sami and Umesh Yadav. Mithun and Mushfiqur were bowled by Yadav and Shami respectively, each being too late on the ball and unable to adjust to the slight inward movement. Ishant ended up with the wickets, taking five for 22 to run through the tailenders.
Shami was also responsible for knocking out two Bangladesh players from the match as the Tigers employed concussion substitutes for the first time. Liton Das, the best Bangladesh batsman on view with a fluent 24, was struck on the helmet by Shami before the supper break and retired hurt after an over. Over the break the team management decided to field Mehedi Hasan Miraz as concussion substitute. Mehedi will only be able to bat, however, as that was the role Liton was supposed to play. After supper Shami repeated the treatment to off-spinner Nayeem Hasan, who was later replaced by left-arm spinner Taijul Islam.