By Shahid Hashmi in Dubai
Pakistan start the pink ball day-night challenge in Asia’s first-ever — second in Test cricket’s 140-year-old history — in the pink of health and are ready to trounvce the West Indies in Dubai from Thursday.
It will be pink leather instead of red, with black sight screens and under bright lights. The challenge of sighting a pink ball is not the only one which the West Indies will face as they are up against world number two Test side with two match-winning spinners in Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar.
To add to these challenges Pakistan have not lost a Test series since making United Arab Emirates their home away from home as they could not stage Tests in their country due to security problems.
Australia and New Zealand played the first-ever day-night Test with a pink ball at the Adelaide Oval in November last year. It was an attempt on the part of Cricket Australia backed by the International Cricket Council to attract dwindling crowds in the longer format.
Despite the fact that batsmen had problems in sighting the seam of the pink ball the Test was a huge success with 123,000 attending the low-scoring match which ended in three days in Australia’s narrow three-wicket win.
More than the day-night and new coloured ball its a momentous occasion for Pakistan as the match marks their 400th Test since playing their first in 1952.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq admitted the milestone makes the occasion more memorable.
“It is am memorable Test match, with pink ball and day-night so we will definitely want to make it memorable,” said Misbah.
“Future belongs to night Tests and this should be played frequently. It’s a good thing that PCB increased the number of first-class day-night games in domestic cricket,”
Misbah was confident that the preparations are good.
“We had six to seven days before the first Test, so we trained maximum under lights with pink ball, and tried to understand the conditions. We have to adjust to the timing of the sessions, understand how the ball will travel under lights, how much the ball will swing under lights, and how much the dew factor will be affecting it,” said Misbah.
The match starts at 3:30 local time and will have two berask of 30 minutes each before dning at 10:30.
West Indies captain Jason Holder promised his team will put better fight than they did in the Twenty20 and one-day series — both whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan.
“We were disappointing in the limited over series but the players have this resolve to do well in Tests and we will up for the challenge,” said Holder, whose team had only one experience of playing with the pink ball in the three-day side game in Sharjah
Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo took five wickets while batsmen Darren Bravo, Kraig Bratjhwaite and Shai Hope hit half-centuries.
Sighting the turning pink ball will be a challenge for batsmen, as it was in Adelaide where the ball swung more to give Australia victory by a think three-wicket margin.
Since Adelaide the pink ball has seen some progression.
Kookaburra’s spokesman Shannon Gill said the colour of the seam has changed from dark green and white to black.
“There’s been a natural progression of the pink ball since the Adelaide Test. We had feedback that players had some difficulty with vision of the seam (dark green and white), in that the contrast wasn’t great enough,” Gill told.
“So we adjusted to a black seam that was subsequently trialled in first class cricket with improved visibility. We have also been working on a slightly strengthened seam that we think will allow for better gripping of the ball in these conditions.”
The remaining two Tests will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 21-25) and Sharjah (October 30-November 3).
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Azhar Ali, Sami Aslam, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Rahat Ali, Sohail Khan, Imran Khan
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite (vice captain), Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Leon Johnson, Alzarri Joseph, Marlon Samuels, Jomel Warrican
Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG) and Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Tv umpire: Ian Gould (ENG)
Match referee: Jeff Corwe (NZ)