At the end of the league phase of Duleep Trophy, which is being played under lights with the pink ball for the first time, spinners were topping the wicket takers list. However, India Blue bowler-Abhimanyu Mithun and Pankaj Singh were among wickets in the third game of the tournament. The duo was instrumental I dismantling India Green’s innings to help their side seize a mammoth first innings lead.
Pankaj who had opened the bowling for India Blue said
“In this match, one knew that with the new ball you had to make the batsman play as much as possible and then as the ball grew older, you had to bowl back length.”
“The wicket was flat and there wasn’t much on offer for the fast bowlers. We were playing with the pink ball for the first time. The ball wasn’t reversing. There was a clear message from the captain (to go for the wickets). Also, when you are playing on wickets like these, you are motivated to perform. When you are bowling the first over for your team, then there is an expectation that you will give a good start. It is when you perform on wickets like these that you stand out,”
he said when asked about their plan while bowling to the Murali Vijay, Robin Uthappa-led lineup.
Speaking about his experience of bowling with the pink ball, Pankaj said,
“I have played only one match with it so can’t say much yet. On a wicket like the one we had for this match if you try to assess bowling with this ball that won’t be fair. We don’t have an idea about reverse swing with this ball. Hence, it is just a new ball that you are bowling with.
To get someone out you have to swing the ball if you can’t swing the ball it is not easy to get batsmen out on Indian wickets. For the first 10 to 15 overs it will swing, after that what will you do as a fast bowler is something that is still to be worked out. We got wickets initially, but what would we do if we hadn’t? How would you make a comeback as a fast bowler is something that we will have to work out,”
he added while elaborating on the strategy employed by the pace bowling pair.
Talking about the challenges of bowling with the new pink ball, he observed,
“it is tough to swing the ball in the afternoon. There are a lot of factors and well will only figure it out as we play more. In this format, you would normally expect the ball to reverse later in the evening, however, if there is dew then it can’t reverse, once it’s wet, the ball doesn’t reverse.
While talking about the final which will see inclusion of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the India Blue squad and Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra and Stuart Binny in the India Red squad, he said,
“The addition of these players is going to be a huge motivation and it also creates healthy competition within the teams. Players’ performances in such matches and while playing in such competitive teams are rated higher. Playing with senior players is always an experience for others.”