If India have to make home advantage count for something then the BCCI too needs to play it smart. They cannot sit back and watch the potency of their spinners being ruined by factors that the cricket board can easily minimise or eliminate if they were a lot more savvy.
India lost the Mohali ODI only because BCCI and its cricket committee did not take pre-emptive steps to overcome the debilitating effect of excessive dew. India made a whopping 358 but could only watch haplessly as the Aussies gleefully carried a battering ram into a dew-soaked battle ground and blasted the diminished spinners out of sight.
Bogged down thoroughly by late evening heavy dew that made the ball as wet and soggy as a bar of lathered soap, India's champion spinners were made to look inept as they struggled to get a grip on the ball.
Kuldeep Yadav was slammed for 64 runs in 10 overs; Yuzvendra Chahal for 80 runs in 10 and Kedar Jadhav for 44 in five. Worse, they had just two wickets to show for their efforts as Australia easily chased down the massive target with more than two overs to spare.
Here, it must be pointed out that north India has not yet have come out of the effects of winter and dew would be a major factor on almost all days during the first half of March.
Ideally BCCI ought to have advanced the match timings to 11.30 am or at least 12 noon to curtail the effects of dew fall and thereby safeguard the advantage of our wrist spinners.
This is not any extraordinary step. Most cricket matches played in eastern parts of India start 30 minutes to an hour early as the sun sets early in that part of the country. This early sun set is taken into account to arrive at the hours of play possible whenever day matches are played. The same logic could be used to advance the start of ODIs during winter months in north India.
Further, umpires carry light meters and these ascertain if the light is ideal for playing the game. If need be artificial lights could be switched on or play could be stopped.
The same is the case with rains. Umpires could call off play or if certain areas need extra mopping up and drying they could order that. But dew is another thing altogether.
Umpires have neither a metre nor effective ways to neutralise it. Sure groundsmen run along with a rope or the super sopper is driven across the ground during intervals. But these are not sufficient to wipe out the effects of continuous dew fall.
ome cricket associations, particularly KSCA, experimented with a South African spray that could coat the grass and let dew slip off and permeate into ground. But the effects lasted barely an hour. Thus there are no sure-fire remedies to check the effects of dew fall at the moment.
The Board must take cognisance of this and advance the start of day-night matches. The alternative is to leave it to chance and hope that dew fall would be light or that India would not bowl second!
India's giant strides in ODIs this past year or so has been owing to the excellent wicket-taking abilities of its wrist spinners and the thrust of its swing bowlers.
Heavy dew not only destroys the effectiveness of wrist spinners, it makes them a liability, as seen in Mohali. They would struggle to get their three spinning fingers and wrist going on a wet ball with the result that they become easy picking.
The pacers too would be badly hit. To start with they would not be able to get any reverse swing as the seam would be wet and the dew-laden ball would be heavy and unfriendly for the purpose. Additionally they too would not get a proper grip and thus bowl wides, full tosses or short-pitched deliveries. In short, bowling with a wet ball is a nightmare for bowlers. They might as well bowl with a wet bar of soap!
The BCCI must wake up to the threats that its team faces due to dew fall and thereby fortify it from its ill effects. After all if India is the stronger side it must not try and neutralise its own strength. An early start is just the shot in the arm that the bowlers would appreciate. Then they won't have to wait anxiously and pray each time the captain goes out to toss.