India's pink ball debut marred as floodlight malfunction interrupts Duleep Trophy opener

New Delhi: India's experiment with the pink ball in the Duleep Trophy domestic championship met with major embarrassment after floodlight failure interrupted play for over an hour in the day-night match on Tuesday.

The Duleep Trophy, a four-day triangular competition which traditionally heralds the start of the Indian cricket season, is seen as a possible precursor to day-night Tests in cricket's biggest market.

But the first match on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi witnessed three of the six light towers go out twice in the post dinner session, forcing the players to leave the field.

Fllodlight malfunction marred India's pink ball debut. AFP

Fllodlight malfunction marred India's pink ball debut. AFP

The first interruption happened just after the dinner interval when play was delayed by 17 minutes due to insufficient light while the second break stretched to about 50 minutes.

The organisers refused to answer any queries after the fiasco as play carried on well past 9pm, the original time for end of play.

"There was some problem in the main electrical circuit of the floodlights, which was tripping," a ground official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Earlier the players taking part in Tuesday's match, between teams that have been rebranded India Red and India Green, were excited at the prospect of the longest format of the game also being played after dark in India.

"I think it is pretty exciting and something to look forward to," said veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, who has enjoyed great success for the national team under lights in ODI and T20 cricket.

"The New Zealand-Australia Test match (first day-night Test played in Adelaide last year) I saw was pretty exciting. The ball was swinging a bit much. It will be challenging if it swings a lot, playing under lights," added Singh, who is captaining India Red.

Suresh Raina, the captain of India Green who is trying to force his way back into the Indian team, was similarly enthusiastic.

"The Duleep Trophy has not been played with the pink ball before and it's a good challenge. All the boys are keen (to perform) and this is a good platform ahead of the season," said Raina.

Singh's team won the toss and chose to bat first in the afternoon in front of a cheering crowd who had filed in to watch a piece of cricketing history.

Yuvraj Singh's India Red lasted only 48.2 overs as they were bowled out for 161 with Sandeep Sharma grabbing 4 for 62.

Left-handed opener Abhinav Mukund was the only batsman who looked in control during his innings of 77 off 116 balls that had 12 boundaries.

Incidentally, Red team were all out even before the floodlights became functional.

The Green team fared no better as pacer Nathu Singh rattled the top order with pace and swing under lights leaving them at 36 for 3. Nathu had figures of 3 for 15 in first four overs having accounted for Robin Uthappa (1), Jalaj Saxena (10) and Rajat Paliwal (1).

Nathu got Robin with a delivery that pitched on three quarter length which came back sharply breaching through his defence. Jalaj chased a wide delivery while Paliwal also got an inswinger that trapped him infront.

One thing was evident that the pink ball swung a bit more under lights than in the afternoon session. The entire focus during the duration of play was on the pink kookaburra.

The good part of it was it held its shine during the 48 overs in the first innings.

More than Pink kookaburra, it was poor application by Red batsmen that saw them losing wickets at regular intervals. The pitch had even grass cover and Green bowlers mostly bowled three quarter or fuller length deliveries to get wicket.

KS Bharat (3) tried to pull a delivery from Sandeep and the ball ballooned up with Uthappa taking a skier. Sudeep Chatterjee (5) got a fuller delivery that was moving away as he went for a drive and was caught behind.

Yuvraj Singh tried to flick Ankit Rajpoot (2/16) to be caught by Paliwal at square leg. All were regulation dismissals that could have happened with red kookaburra also.

Mukund however played sensibly even as wickets tumbled at the other end. One delivery that accounted for Gurkeerat (0) saw Ankit bowl a sharp incutter that took inside edge onto keeper Parthiv Patel's hands.

Similarly Sandeep got one to dip back bowling Kuldeep Yadav. Spinners bowled 14 overs in all with veteran Pragyan Ojha getting 3/19 in 5 overs.

However on a first day pitch with cover of grass, there was not much turn available off the surface. All the three dismissals off Ojha's bowling was due to poor shot selection.

Eager fans

"It's a novel idea. Local people are eager to watch the pink ball game under lights. We are just hoping that all goes well," Rajeev Tyagi, one of the ground's administrators, told AFP before the floodlight failure.

India had been expected to stage their first day-night Test during a tour by New Zealand starting next month. But the plans were shelved to give more time for trials of the pink Kookaburra ball.

Designers say the pink ball is far more visible under lights than the red ball that has traditionally been used in Tests. The white ball used in limited-overs cricket is not viable for Tests as it clashes with the players' white clothing and sight screens as well as being less durable.

The Australia-New Zealand match is the only Test so far to have been played under lights. But Pakistan are also set to stage day/night contests against Australia and the West Indies in the Gulf later this year.

India, who have just been toppled by Pakistan at the top of the rankings, are about to embark on an extensive round of Test match cricket by hosting series against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.

While India's ODI and T20 matches are usually played in front of packed houses, Tests are only rarely sold out.

With inputs from Agencies

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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2016 22:21:48 IST

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