Know what to expect from pink ball, need little practice: Cheteshwar Pujara

Done with the T20I series, the focus now shifts to the Test series between India and Bangladesh. And more importantly, the pink ball Test at the Eden Gardens from November 22 to 26. While it will be the maiden Day-Night Test for both the teams, one man who has been there and performed under lights against the pink ball is India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara.

The 2016 edition of the Duleep Trophy was played with the Kookaburra pink ball and Pujara topped the run charts (453) with two hundreds, including a 256 not out for India Blue.

Pujara played down the whole debate and said that things wouldn’t be very different from a batsman’s perspective when it comes to playing against the pink ball as compared to the conventional red ball.

“I don’t think there will be a major difference when you start playing with the pink ball. Since I haven’t played (against the SG pink ball) I am not sure, but my assumption is that even the SG pink ball will be very similar to the red ball. I feel in India the quality of SG balls have improved,” India’s Test No.3 said.

“Looking at the recent series we played against South Africa, the guys were happy with the way the ball maintained shape and even the quality of the ball. So we are expecting the same thing even with the pink ball. When it comes to pink ball, it will be little different from the red ball but I don’t see a massive difference.”

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The BCCI stuck to Kookaburra when it came to pink-ball cricket in the domestic circuit in the last few years despite using the SG red ball in first-class cricket. And talking about his experience against the pink Kookaburra, Pujara said that he will look to use muscle memory to begin with as to how the ball will behave.

“When I played, it was 2016/17 which is a long time ago. So that can’t be considered as an advantage. But yes, that experience will be very helpful for sure, without any doubt. When you have played with pink ball, you know what to expect at what time and what might be on offer. So that experience does help,” Pujara asserted.

The 31-year old had previously spoken about the twilight period being a problem with the pink ball. Prodded further, he quipped: “Sometimes it is challenging in twilight playing with the pink ball. You need little more practice and once you keep playing with the pink ball at that time (twilight), you start getting used to it.

“So it’s just about doing few more practice sessions before we play the match. I will try and practice with the pink ball whenever there is an opportunity,” he said.

A BCCI official said that the balls will be delivered to the players directly in Indore this week as they gear up for the opening Test.

On his views about Day-Night Tests, Pujara said: “We will have to wait and watch but at this stage it’s a nice move.”

Pujara also spoke on the standard of teams going down after India whitewashed West Indies and South Africa away and at home respectively, saying most teams are in transition now and it will take a couple of years for them to be back to where they were.

“If you look at Test cricket, most of the teams are in transition phase. They are trying to build new Test teams. So, it might take some time for teams like West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa because their great players have retired and now they are giving opportunity to young players which will need some time to improve their Test cricket.

“So when teams go through transition period, it looks like the overall standard has come down a bit. But I think in 1-2 years’ time all these teams will be much stronger when it comes to Test cricket,” Pujara opined.

The prolific batsman also lauded Rohit Sharma who has tasted success early on as a Test opener, saying it helps the team get a good start which is so crucial.

“It helps the team. The most important thing, especially in Test cricket, is you need to have a good start. And if you look at the way Rohit and Mayank (Agarwal) have batted recently, it has given us a solid start and when you get a solid start the team can be rest assured about putting up a decent total on the board.

“Even if we don’t bat that well, good start will always give us like 350-400. So that is the biggest positive if you ask me,” he signed off.

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