Kolkata: Ahead of their first Day-Night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens here, India captain Virat Kohli said on Thursday that fielding with the SG pink ball is a very challenging task.
India had a full training session under lights on Wednesday evening where Kohli was seen batting for a long while at the nets during the twilight period, which is said to be the toughest phase for the batters in a pink ball Test.
India went through fielding drills as well, with Rohit Sharma even picking up a minor knock on his hand while catching at slips.
On the eve of the historic occasion, Kohli was asked what challenges the team faced while training.
“Batting is something we were focusing a lot. As batsmen you think of cutting down those errors when you are playing with a different-coloured ball. We were looking to solidify our technique. We are fine with that. But what surprised me were fielding sessions,” said the captain.
Kohli compared the pink ball which has an extra coating of lacquer with a hockey ball in terms of feel and how hard it hits the hand.
“How in the slips the ball hits your hand so hard, it almost felt like a heavy hockey ball or those synthetic balls you used to play with as a kid. It felt like that on the hand and it’s purely because of extra glaze on the ball. It’s much more hardened and felt a little heavy although there won’t be much of a difference in terms of weight. Even the throws took lot more effort than the red ball to reach the keeper,” Kohli explained.
The 31-year old further said that high catching during the day would become very difficult due to visibility of the ball being an issue.
“Dip perception was very difficult when the ball went up in the air. So during the day, high catches will be very difficult. We had to watch the ball straight into our palms more often than not. With red and white balls, you have an idea of how fast the ball is coming down but with the pink ball, if you don’t look at the ball until your palms, it’s gone.
“Fielding session was much more challenging. People are going to be surprised how challenging fielding with this ball can be,” Kohli emphasised.
Among other challenges, the Indian skipper said batters need to have a better idea of where their off-stump is.
“Your idea of off-stump, that’s going to be the most crucial thing because even yesterday when we practised, we felt that the ball could be closer to you but it’s actually not that close to the off-stump. That channel one has to be careful,” said Kohli.
“It will require more concentration, more solid technique, a more compact game compared to the red ball purely because anyway in the longer format, the ball does a lot more than the white ball. Add not having great visibility or the ability to pick that colour makes it even more difficult. So as you can imagine decision-making has to be very precise.
“Even while catching the ball, we felt like how wee feel like when we play with the white ball in the afternoon. You don’t really know how far the ball is and then it hits your hand very quickly. Even in the slips, it was flying very fast. I think the extra glaze on the ball is making it travel faster and it hits the hand very hard.”
He compared the buzz at Eden to how it was during 2016 when India and Pakistan locked horns for a World T20 game.
“Last time we saw a similar buzz at Eden Gardens was when India played Pakistan in the T20 World Cup. There too, dignitaries came and former captains were felicitated in front of sellout crowds. We’re expecting a similar atmosphere here.
“It can be a daunting, intimidating experience for a player too. Imagine the boost our bowlers have standing at the mark with some 80,000 fans cheering for them. I’m expecting very exciting cricket in the first hour because the energy level will be very high. I’m sure the fans would enjoy it. It’s a landmark Test and we’re lucky to be the first Indian team playing it. It’s a great honour.”
Choose wisely – go organic this Holi
With Holi -the festival of colours coming up — everyone is busy buying colours, ‘pichkaris’, and balloons but with increasing environment pollution and severe allergic reactions to synthetic colours, there is a growing awareness among people to opt for organic variants.
“In an approximately Rs 4,500-crore unorganised Holi colour market, the share of the organic variety is miniscule, but growing,” said Madhumita Puri, Founder and Executive Director of Avacayam Naturals, a Delhi-based manufacturer of organic colours.
The adverse effects of synthetic colours was observed in a study titled ‘The Holi Dermatoses’, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
It found a spate in skin diseases following the spring festival in India.
In the study conducted on 42 patients in Kolkata, 11 patients suffered due to activities related to preparation of colors and 12 reported aggravation of pre-existing dermatoses.
Nearly 60 per cent patients reported itching, while others reported to have suffered from a burning sensation, scaling, redness and watering of the eyes, as per the study.
Treading on a eco-friendly and skin-friendly path, Avacayam Naturals employed differently-abled persons to make organic colours by using waste and used flowers and leaves.
This solves three purposes at one go – generates employment for the disabled, manufactures harmless eco-friendly colours, and there is optimal usage of waste flowers.
Speaking to IANS, Puri said: “For making the colours, we collect used flowers — roses, marigolds, and others — and leaves from temples, weddings, and hotels.”
Avacayam Naturals, one of the programs that Puri started under her “Trash to Cash” scheme, makes four colours: Pink from roses, yellow from yellow marigolds, orange from orange marigolds, and green from leaves.
On being asked if the colours are harmless, she said: “Rather than damaging the environment, they are beneficial as each packet of colour is made from waste flowers which otherwise would dirty the place.”
How are the colours made?
“After the flowers are collected, the workers sort them in different baskets according to their colour. Then, the petals and seed pods are separated and cut. These are then spread out to dry in a well ventilated space for all the moisture to evaporate.
“After that, they are ground and processed — without adding any chemicals — to be made into colours for people to enjoy,” Puri said, adding that the process of collection, drying, and grinding continues throughout the year but it is only before festivals that they process them into the final product.
“In a year, we manufacture around 20 tonne of pure organic colour, some of which is sold to Walmart India. One kilo of colour is sold between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000.”
When asked about the expiry date of these colours, Puri said: “The product is a dry one and completely natural. We have been testing them since five years now and have not found any deterioration in the quality, fungal infestations, or weevils. So there is no ‘expiry date’ to them.”
Another such manufacturer is Jaipur-based Red Earth which makes colours “exclusively from edible materials and scent them with pure, traditional attars”.
Speaking to IANS, Himanshu Verma, Director-Owner of Red Earth, said: “Every 2-3 years, we change our colour palette… this year we have four colours — Sunahra Dhamaal, Shvet Abeer, Neem Sanrachna, and Gulabi Nagariya — that are inspired by local materials.”
“The colours are curated on the basis of availability of local materials. We use items like camphor, neem, mehendi, multani-mitti, geru powder, arrowroot, flour, and others,” Verma said, adding that 50-60 per cent materials used are edible so that even if someone ingests them by mistake, they will not be as harmful.