November 20, 2019 / 6:39 AM / 23 days ago

Nervous wait almost over for India's pink-ball supplier

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Paras Anand freely admits he will probably be the most nervous person at Eden Gardens on Friday when India take the day-night test plunge against Bangladesh.

Cricket - Australia v South Africa - Third Test cricket match - Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia - 23/11/16. REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files

Equipment manufacturer Sanspareils Greenlands, commonly known as SG, has supplied the country’s top cricketers for generations but its marketing director Anand says the hype around the pink balls it produced for the landmark contest is unprecedented.

“I believe five elements are critical for the success of pink-ball cricket — pitch, outfield, lights, players’ experience and the ball itself,” Anand told Reuters by telephone.

“Only the ball is being talked about. As the ball manufacturer, it’s obviously exciting, but at the same time, I’m slightly anxious and waiting to see how it goes.”

The phased colouring process means it takes eight days to produce a pink ball at the SG factory in the north Indian city of Meerut, while a red ball takes only three.

India tried out Australian-made Kookaburra pink balls in the domestic Duleep Trophy but will use the SG variety for what will also be Bangladesh’s maiden day-night test.

With most players from both sides having practically no experience of playing with a pink ball, its visibility, especially at twilight, is a concern.

Anand said they have ensured the ball does not discolour easily but there are other factors in play.

“It’s a brighter pink. We avoided baby-pink, which is lighter and picks up more dust and gets darker.

“We’ve tested the ball in very rough conditions. But having grass on the wicket is very important for the colour to last longer.”

Dew is another concern and players are keen to find out how it will affect the movement of the heavily-lacquered ball.

“Well, that’s where nobody has any control — be it the curator, or the ball-manufacturer, or the administrators,” Anand said. “Dew is a challenge, but it’s same for both the teams, and whoever can adapt better will do better.”

Eden Gardens hosted a domestic multi-day pink-ball match in 2016 and Anand said the conditions then had been good.

“They left grass on the wicket, the outfield was pretty lush, the lights were perfect,” Anand said.

“They have done plenty of homework. They’d ensure the ground conditions are ideal for pink balls. If it’s a success, it would be a big plus for the game.”

More than 50,000 fans are expected to watch the landmark moment for Indian cricket, Anand among them.

“I’ll be there on day one, with my fingers crossed,” he added.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford

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