Rival captains fear pink ball twilight collapse in Ahmedabad

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India's captain Virat Kohli addresses media representatives during a press conference at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on July 8, 2019, ahead of their 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final match against New Zealand. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

AHMEDABAD: 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. 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.

Pace bowler Umesh Yadav has been added to India’s squad for the final two Tests in Ahmedabad after he passed a fitness test following his recovery from a calf injury.

An intense atmosphere is certain at the 110,000 capacity Sardar Patel stadium that was used for a rally by US president Donald Trump last February.

Authorities have said more than 50,000 tickets will go on sale for the first cricket game to be played in the revamped ground.

The pink ball, LED lights instead of usual floodlights and the size of the ground add to the test of nerves.

The hosts, who beat Bangladesh in under three days in their first day-night Test in Kolkata in 2019, are expected to stick largely to their winning side from Chennai.

England though will be forced to make changes because of their rotation policy. Moeen Ali headed back home after the second Test loss when he was England’s standout performer with eight wickets and a quickfire 43 with the bat.

Off-spinner Dom Bess is expected to get his place back and fast bowler James Anderson should return.

“I believe this series is absolutely on a knife-edge,” former England spinner Graeme Swann said. “It is a brilliant place for England to be, and they’ve got a great chance to go ahead once more. I’m full of optimism going into this game, mainly due to Jimmy coming back.

“He was irrepressible in the first match, and he just keeps defying the odds and gets better and better.”

Returning batsman Jonny Bairstow and fast bowler Mark Wood will also be in contention, while Jofra Archer, who missed the second Test with an elbow problem, is expected to make the team.

“Always nice to be in competition for the squad,” said a fit-again Archer.

The England paceman said he was looking forward to playing on the new ‘beautiful’ ground in front of the crowd.

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.