In a first of its kind in India, the Cricket Association of Bengal will stage the four-day final of the S K Acharya memorial tournament (Ranji Trophy pre-season tourney) with pink balls and under floodlights.
The title round of the four-team tournament will be played at the Eden Gardens from October 1-4.
Bengal ‘A’, Bengal ‘B’, Odisha and Jharkhand are the four participating teams in the tournament, which begins on September 15.
Pink balls have been used in the Australian domestic circuit strictly on experimental basis while one of the opening games in an English County few years back was also played with pink balls.
CAB treasurer and member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s National Cricket Academy sub-committee Biswarup Dey revealing the proposal, said: "Day/Night first-class matches are way forward and we wanted to be the first in India to try it out on an experimental basis. The players will be wearing white clothing and pink balls will be used. The sightscreen will be black," Dey told PTI over phone from Kolkata.
He informed that he has already placed an order for pink balls with noted Australian ball manufacturing company Kookaburra.
"We have ordered for four dozens of pink balls. Each ball will cost us approximately INR 6500. It means we will be spending close to Rs 3.12 lakh for importing these balls. The idea is to provide the teams with enough pink balls so that they can use them during net practise as a preparation for the final," Dey said.
Just like the Hyderabad Cricket Association organises the Moin-ud Dowla Gold Cup and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association holds the Buchi Babu, the CAB’s S K Acharya Challenger Trophy is a preparatory tournament for Bengal's Ranji squad.
Jharkhand and Odisha will be send their Ranji teams for the tournament.
The CAB is also trying new strategies to promote the event. Back in 1991, in Kolkata (Calcutta then) 'Cricket Derby' between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal was played under floodlights, with around 35,000 people buying tickets to watch the match.
Sachin Tendulkar played for East Bengal while Javagal Srinath opened the bowling for Mohun Bagan.
"We will be trying to keep some very cheap tickets so that it can attract a decent crowd. Even if 20,000-25,000 people turn up on one of the days, it will be great.
“We are planning to speak to some Bengali channels to see whether they can show some highlights or selected clippings of the match," Dey said.
Image: Fraser Stewart, Laws and Universities manager of the MCC, during a trial of three versions of pink balls -- Dukes Pink, SG Pink, Kookabura Pink -- in Mumbai, in March 2010.
Photograph: Harish Kotian