Virat Kohli attends a training session ahead of their third Test against England. Courtesy: BCCI Twitter
England captain Joe Root and India skipper Virat Kohli have both warned of the challenges of playing during the twilight zone in day-night Tests -- when batting collapses can happen -- ahead of their third Test clash starting on Wednesday.
The match will be the first time that India and England -- level at 1-1 in the four-match series -- face each other in a day-night encounter.
“It’s much more challenging to play with the pink ball regardless of what pitch you are playing on,” Kohli said on the eve of the match in the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.
“And especially in the evening, if, as a batting team, you are starting your innings under lights, then that one-and-a-half hour is challenging,” Kohli told reporters.
“When it starts to get dark, especially during that twilight period, it gets very tricky. Light changes, it’s difficult to sight the ball and under lights is like playing the first session in the morning in a normal Test match. The ball tends to swing a lot.”
Both teams have had painful experiences of pink-ball cricket. India were bowled out for 36 by Australia in Adelaide in December and New Zealand skittled England in Auckland for 58 in 2018.
“Both are bizarre experiences for two quality sides,” Kohli said.
“Barring that 45 minutes of bad cricket (in Adelaide) we dominated the Test match. We are very confident in how we play the pink ball.”
Root agreed that batsmen need to careful -- and not just in the evening when the lights come on the ball can start swinging.
“I think there’s been a trend in all the pink-ball Test matches of collapses on occasion,” Root told a separate news conference.
“It seems to be a trend and it’s something as a batting group you need to make sure you stop,” he said.
“It’s sometimes been right at the start of the game, you know the morning session, late on in day four, that this strange sort of passages of play has happened.”
He added: “When you get that opportunity and you’re on the right side of it, you’re in the field with a ball in hand, you really get and roll with it. You take every opportunity and chance and you make that really count in your favour.
“Similarly with a bat in hand, you’ve just got to really make sure those (first) 20 balls, you’re fighting with everything you’ve got to get yourself in, get accustomed to the wicket, the conditions and make sure you build that partnership which is so vital.”
The Ahmedabad stadium has a capacity of 110,000 people and authorities have allowed 55,000 tickets to go on sale each day.
Each side has had a convincing win in the first two Tests. England won the first by 227 runs, while India claimed the second by 317 runs. Both need a win to keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Test Championship final.
Meanwhile, India pace bowler Ishant Sharma, who is due to play his 100th Test at the Motera Stadium on Wednesday has produced his best as a Test bowler under the captaincy of his Delhi teammate Kohli.
India captain Kohli, 32, believes it is the trust factor that has worked for the two who have been playing cricket together since mid-2000s.
The two had made their first-class debut together, against Tamil Nadu in November 2006 at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Kohli has led Sharma in 38 Test matches and MS Dhoni was India captain in 47 Tests featuring Sharma. But over the past few years, since Kohli took over the reins of the Indian team, Sharma has turned into a lethal bowler.
He has taken 112 wickets at an average of 25.32 under Kohli whereas his 152 wickets under Dhoni have come at an average of 36.65.
“I have known Ishant for many years now. He started playing state cricket with me, from first season onwards.
“We have been roommates for many years in state cricket, Ranji Trophy cricket. When he got selected for India, he was fast asleep in the afternoon and I had to kick him off the bed to say that he has been selected and he wouldn’t believe me. That is how far we go back,” Kohli told the media on Tuesday.
“Playing 100 Tests as a fast bowler is no mean feat and playing especially in our conditions, things can get is so difficult. But he kept working hard. He is very hard working and is very honest about his abilities, about what he can do and what he can bring to the table,” the India skipper added.
Kohli said that Sharma needs to be lauded for preferring Test cricket over ODI and T20I cricket.
“Hard to see [such longevity to play 100 Tests], especially for fast bowlers in today’s age and time. People lose motivation.”