The 11 Pink-Ball Day-Night Tests 

Suvajit Mustafi
Thursday, 21 November 2019

“That’s the way forward. Test cricket needed a rejuvenation. It happens all around the world. Somewhere it had to start. India is the biggest country in terms of cricket. I think that rejuvenation was important,” said Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI President, when he announced India’s maiden foray into Day-Night Tests.

“That’s the way forward. Test cricket needed a rejuvenation. It happens all around the world. Somewhere it had to start. India is the biggest country in terms of cricket. I think that rejuvenation was important,” said Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI President, when he announced India’s maiden foray into Day-Night Tests.

Over three years back, Ganguly, as the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), had ensured India had a taste of pink-ball cricket when he hosted a local club cricket final as a Day-Night encounter at the Eden Gardens. The local club game was aired on national television with foreign commentators and followed with great interest. It doesn’t come as a surprise that India has shed its pink-ball phobia with Ganguly at the helm.
The administrators around the globe are fighting hard to keep Test cricket relevant. The cricket’s pristine format has struggled to emulate the success of its lucrative offspring – the T20. Sandwiched between the micro-sized cash-rich formats of the Hundred, T20s and T10s, ICC’s World Test Championship is the life-support Tests needed. 

The rise of the IPL and other mushrooming leagues has seen diminishing fans from the Test stands in the subcontinent. Once upon a time, Eden Gardens would draw more fans than the 100,000 seats for a day's play in Tests. Now it fails to attract even the reduced capacity collectively for all five days. 
Day-Night Tests are oxygen; the format needs to breathe. The second and final Test between India and Bangladesh will be played at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. It will be the first-ever Day-Night Test that either side will play in. The Test will also mark the debut of the pink SG ball. So far, pink balls of Kookaburra and Dukes have been used for Tests. 

Ahead of the historic India-Bangladesh Kolkata Test, let’s have a look at the Day-Night Test chronicles.

Tests new dawn at dusk starts with a nail-biter! 
Australia vs New Zealand, Adelaide, November-December 2015
Australia managed to pull off the thriller by three wickets in a game that swung either way with the pacers dictating terms. New Zealand managed only 202 in the first innings and had Australia under the mats at 116 for eight. The Australian tail led by their wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and aided by Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc took the side to a 22-run lead. New Zealand set up a target of 187 and Australia managed to limp through it, winning the series 2-0.

Brief Scores
New Zealand 202 (Tom Latham 50; Mitchell Starc 3-24, Josh Hazlewood 3-660 & 208 (Mitchell Santner 45; Josh Hazlewood 6-70, Mitchell Marsh 3-59) lost to Australia 224 (Steven Smith 53, Peter Nevill 66; Doug Bracewell 3-18] & 187/7 (Shaun Marsh 49; Trent Boult 5-60] by three wickets.

When Darren Bravo almost did a Brian Lara!
Pakistan vs West Indies, Dubai, October 2016
The clash of the two volatile sides proved to be a fantastic match. Misbah-ul-Haq’s Pakistan were then on the rise after their excellent series in England. Azhar Ali’s 302* made it look like a one-sided affair. Worse, West Indies were bowled out for 357 in response to Pakistan’s 579. Darren Bravo’s crawl to 87 was their highest score.

The Test took an unexpected turn when Pakistan skittled out for 123 in the second innings, courtesy Devendra Bishoo’s eight-for. Chasing 346 under the lights, West Indies rode on Bravo's century and cruised to 263 for six. Bravo has based his batting on the legendary Brian Lara, and this day, he almost pulled off a miraculous win like his idol. He finally lost the battle of nerves against leggie Yasir Shah. Captain Jason Holder found no support at the other end as West Indies were bowled out for 289. The madness saw the last two wickets to fall as run-outs.

Brief Scores
Pakistan 579/3 dec (Sami Aslam 90, Azhar Ali 302*, Asad Shafiq 67, Babar Azam 69) & 123 (Sami Aslam 44; Devendra Bishoo 8-49) beat West Indies 357 (Darren Bravo 87, Marlon Samuels 76; Yasir Shah 5-121) & 289 (Leon Johnson 47, Darren Bravo 116, Jason Holder 40*; Mohammad Amir 3-63) by 56 runs.

A ‘FRESH’ start for Australia
Australia vs South Africa, Adelaide, November 2016
Having lost five Tests in a row, Australia made sweeping changes to their side and handed caps to three debutants. South Africa had already won the series 2-0 and were eyeing a clean sweep in what was their maiden Day-Night Test.
Faf du Plessis scored a brilliant hundred under the lights to take South Africa to a respectable total. Usman Khawaja starred for the hosts, slamming 145 as they took a sizeable lead. South Africa had a lot to catch-up, and Australia finally broke their losing streak. After two pink-ball thrillers, this was the first one-sided affair.

Brief Scores
South Africa 259/9 dec (Stephen Cook 40, Faf du Plessis 118*; Josh Hazlewood 4-68) & 250 (Stephen Cook 104, Hashim Amla 45; Mitchell Starc 4-80, Nathan Lyon 3-60) lost to Australia 383 (Usman Khawaja 145, Steven Smith 59, Peter Handscomb 54, Mitchell Starc 53; Kyle Abbott 3-49, Kagiso Rabada 3-84) & 127/3 (David Warner 47, Steven Smith 40) by seven wickets.

The Pakistan Enigma!
Australia vs Pakistan, Brisbane, December 2016
Brisbane hosted its first Day-Night Test, and the atmosphere was no less than a carnival. In what seemed to be a one-sided affair turned out to be a classic. Steven Smith and Peter Handscomb’s hundreds propelled the hosts to 429. Australian seamers made the pink ball talk under the lights, cleaning up Pakistan for 142.

Smith didn’t enforce a follow-on and adopted a slam-bang approach in the second innings. Australia thought a target of 490 would be enough. Pakistan pulled off a surprise with an incredible chase. Asad Shafiq starred with a century getting good support from the tail – Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Yasir. Pakistan fell 40 short of what could have been a record Test win.

All in all, it was a fantastic Test, and Australian spectators had given up a thumbs up to the pink-ball.

Brief Scores
Australia 429 (Matt Renshaw 71, Steven Smith 130, Peter Handscomb 105; Mohammad 4-97, Wahab Riaz 4-89) & 202/5 dec (Usman Khawaja 74, Steven Smith 63) beat Pakistan 142 (Sarfaraz Ahmed 59*; Mitchell Starc 3-63, Josh Hazlewood 3-22, Jackson Bird 3-23) & 450 (Azhar Ali 71, Younis Khan 65, Asad Shafiq 137, Mohammad Amir 48; Mitchell Starc 4-119, Jackson Bird 3-110) by 39 runs. 

The listless Windies show! 
England vs West Indies, Birmingham, August 2017
England finally had its tryst with Day-Night Tests. The Duke ball made its debut. The historic occasion was marred by a spineless effort by the West Indian batsmen. The heavily one-sided Test will be best-remembered for Alastair Cook’s double hundred that saw him end a lean phase.

The purpose of Day-Night Tests was to make the format viewer-friendly and ensure more numbers filled the stands. The chilly evenings in Birmingham didn’t help the spectators enough

Brief Scores
England 514/8 dec (Alastair Cook 243, Joe Root 136, Dawid Malan 65; Roston Chase 4-113) beat West Indies 168 (Jermaine Blackwood 79; James Anderson 3-34) & 137 (Kraigg Brathwaite 40; Stuart Broad 3-34) by an innings and 209 runs.

A thriller at Desert!
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Dubai, October 2017
UAE has been Pakistan’s fort for long. 2017 was a nightmare for Sri Lanka. Fresh after being thrashed 9-0 across formats by India at home, Sri Lanka stared at a big challenge when they entered the gulf to face their hosts, Pakistan.

Sri Lanka pulled off a thriller in the first Test to go up 1-0, putting the pressure on Pakistan to draw the series by winning the next. This was Sri Lanka’s debut with the pink ball, and they immediately showed fondness for it.

Dimuth Karunaratne’s grind over nine hours yielded him 196 as Sri Lanka posted 482. Pakistan replied with 262, and Sri Lanka didn’t enforce a follow-on. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 96 in the second innings – managing a rare feat of registering the highest-ever difference between two innings scores. 

Pakistan were back in the contest needing 317 to level the series. They lost half their side at 52 before Shafiq and Sarfraz added 173 runs for the sixth wicket. Despite Shafiq’s hundred, the Pakistan tail couldn't repeat their Brisbane heroics and went on to lose their first-ever series in the UAE in a decade. 

Brief Scores 
Sri Lanka 482 (Dimuth Karunaratne 196, Dinesh Chandimal 62, Niroshan Dickwella 52, Dilruwan Perera 58; Yasir Shah 6-184) & 96 (Wahab Riaz 4-41, Haris Sohail 3-1) beat Pakistan 262 (Azhar Ali 59, Haris Sohail 56; Dilruwan Perera 3-72, Rangana Herath 3-84) & 248 (Asad Shafiq 112, Sarfraz Ahmed 68; Dilruwan Perera 5-98) by 68 runs.

Pink-ball enters The Ashes!
Australia vs England, Adelaide, December 2017
This was the first-ever Day-Night Ashes Test. Batting wasn't easy in this contest and local boy Shaun Marsh proved to be the difference between the two sides. His unbeaten century got Australia to 442, and that proved to be the difference in the end. Despite the 215-run first-innings lead, Australia were found wanting against Anderson in the second innings, folding for 138. Chasing 358, England managed 233 as Australia went 2-0 up in the series, which they eventually won 4-0.

Brief Scores
Australia 442/8 dec (David Warner 47, Usman Khawaja 53, Steven Smith 40, Shaun Marsh 126*, Tim Paine 57, Pat Cummins 44; Craig Overton 3-105) & 138 (James Anderson 5-43, Chris Woakes 4-36) beat England 227 (Craig Overton 41*; Mitchell Starc 3-49, Nathan Lyon 4-60) & 233 (Joe Root 67; Mitchell Starc 5-88) by 120 runs.

The Further Curtailed Four-Dayer! 
South Africa vs Zimbabwe, Port Elizabeth, December 2017
Sensing the four-day Test format clubbed with the pink ball as the future of Tests, Cricket South Africa announced their Boxing Day 2017 fixture to be so. The match marked the comeback of their superstar, AB de Villiers. In the end, the Test lasted for two days, making it the second shortest Test in the past fifty years. Zimbabwe were matchless against their neighbour's might.

Brief Scores
South Africa 309/9 dec (Aiden Markram 125, AB de Villiers 53, Temba Bavuma 44; Kyle Jarvis 3-57, Christopher Mpofu 3-58) beat Zimbabwe 68 (Morne Morkel 5-21) & 121 (Keshav Maharaj 5-59, Andile Phehlukwayo 3-13) by an innings and 120 runs. 

Gone within a session!
New Zealand vs England, Auckland, March 2018
England crossed the Tasman Sea after a disastrous Ashes. New Zealand readied itself for hosting its first-ever pink-ball Test. Trent Boult and Tim Southee made the pink ball talk, wrapping up the English innings in just one-and-half hour. Thanks to Overton’s counterattacking 25-ball 33*, England could manage to cross 50. The Test was lost in the first session.

New Zealand capitalised on the bowling show and cruised to a comfortable win. The ball swings a lot more in New Zealand than anywhere else. Add dusk, lights and pink ball to the equation, and it became a merry time for the Kiwi seamers.

Brief Scores
England 58 (Trent Boult 6-32, Tim Southee 4-25) &320 (Mark Stoneman 55, Joe Root 51, Ben Stokes 66, Chris Woakes 52; Trent Boult 3-67, Neil Wagner 3-77, Todd Astle 3-79) lost to New Zealand 427/8 dec (Kane Williamson 102, Henry Nicholls 145*; James Anderson 3-87, Stuart Broad 3-78) by an innings & 49 runs.

The Thriller at Bridgetown!
West Indies vs Sri Lanka, Bridgetown, June 2018
Pink ball made its foray to the Caribbean Islands, finally. The Duke ball was expected to move under the lights, and it stayed true to its reputation. West Indies took a brave call to bat first. Losing half the side at 53, Shane Dowrich and Jason Holder showed grit under the lights to help the side reach 204.
West Indian seamers bundled Sri Lanka for 154 before their batters let them down again. West Indies folded for 93 in the second innings, setting Sri Lanka 144 to draw the series. The Day Three of the Test saw 20 wickets fall in the day – the highest ever in a day’s play in Tests played in the Caribbean. Sri Lanka eventually limped to the target thanks to a gutsy show by the Pereras. Reeling at 81 for 6, Kushal (28*) and Dilruwan (23*) added 63 for the seventh wicket to see them home.

Brief Scores
West Indies 204 (Shane Dowrich 71, Jason Holder 74; Lahiru Kumara 4-58, Kasun Rajitha 3-68) & 93 (Suranga Lakmal 3-25, Kasun Rajitha 3-20) lost to Sri Lanka 154 (Niroshan Dickwella 42; Shanon Gabriel 3-52, Jason Holder 4-19) & 144/6 (Jason Holder 5-41) by four wickets.

Sri Lanka face the Australia juggernaut!
Australia vs Sri Lanka, Brisbane, January 2019
Australian coach Justin Langer admitted to having sleepless nights ahead of this Test. Australia has not lost a Test Brisbane in over 30 years. Were Sri Lanka strong enough to challenge that? More than Sri Lanka's might, Australia were fighting internal demons following the bans of David Warner and Smith. Earlier that month, Australia lost a Test series to India for the first time at home. Also, Sri Lanka's previous two Day-Night Tests were overseas affairs, and they had won both.
Pat Cummins raised his hand at the occasion and inspired the inexperienced Australian side to an innings victory at their favourite venue. 

Brief Scores
Sri Lanka 144 (Niroshan Dickwella 64; Jhye Richardson 3-26, Pat Cummins 4-39) & 139 (Pat Cummins 6-23) lost to Australia 323 (Marcus Harris 44, Marcus Labuschagne 81, Travis Head 84; Suranga Lakmal 5-75) by an innings and 40 runs. 


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