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A Test Eden crowd passed with dazzing pink

24th November 2019
Take a stroll around Central Kolkata and you will be regaled with names like Sir Stuart Hogg Market, Rippon Building, Writers' Buildings and Dalhousie Square, the embossed year of construction dating back to mid-1800s or early 1900s. As we approach the Benoy Badal Dinesh Bag, another sprawling, imposing piece of real estate welcomes a visitor.
In fact, the central Kolkata skyline is incomplete without the four iconic floodlights. And its under these floodlights that a new chapter in the history of India cricket was written by BCCI President Sourav Ganguly with helping hands from his comrades at the Cricket Association of Bengal.
Test cricket has taken a body blow from T20 and ODIs with diminishing popularity and sagging crowd. No one seems to be Keen to host one. T20 is a much more profitable option. But with one momentous decision all that changed when Ganguly, within 30 days of becoming the high priest of Indian cricket, brought Pink Ball D/N cricket to Eden Gardens.
He marketed it meticulously and branded it like a miss of a lifetime if you failed to be in one of the bucket seats at Eden. The crowd responded and the stadium was packed to the rafters on the opening day. Dada tweeted a picture with the crowd. The second day saw no letting down raising hopes of Test cricket making a come back.
But what came as a real flash of hope was the fact that on the third day with just 3 wickets to see of Bangladesh, around 50,000 turned up. They knew that cricket will not spill into the romantic swing and seam of the pink cherry under the lights. They knew it was matter of an hour under a lazy winter sun. They knew that their Virat Kohli will not showoff his swagger with the bat. Or something dramatic will happen and the Bangla tigers would turn that tables. They knew it all and came.
They cheered Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. They all cheered Mushfiqur Rehman's lone wolf mentality of not giving in. They rose to clap for the Bangladesh team as they drowned the docks along Hoogly with lusty cheers of India--India, India-India.
In the Post match press conference skipper Virat Kohli said: "This is the importance of Test centres.Dada has been a strong advocate of Test cricket and so are we. With him at the helm a lot is going to happen for the betterment of cricket."
He also stressed on the need to market Test cricket as the shorter versions are done and lauded Dada for what he had done to get the crowd back to the ground. No wonder the team took a victory lap to appreciate the Sunday crowd that came only for the love of the game.

Arindam Basu