In the end, the actual proceedings of the first ever day and night Test on Indian soil may have seemed underwhelming on the field. However, it did manage to stroke a few stinging reminders as Australia’s Test captain, Tim Paine, inadvertently pointed out recently.
India won their first overseas tour down under in seven decades earlier this year. At the turn of the year, India were bent on not squandering the opportunity of capitalizing on a rather weak Australian batting line up. Virat Kohli, having led the Test team de facto in 2014, pushed them to history with a phenomenal series win.
While that was humiliation enough for Paine and his team, there was more angst within Cricket Australia over India turning down the opportunity to participate in the day and night Test in Adelaide. Since the inception of the day and night Test cricket in 2015, Australia have kept at least one Test as part of their summer itinerary, carved out exclusively for the Test cricket under lights. One of their money spinners, Australia would stand to have made a lot of money from India’s participation.
However, India were wary of playing their first Test under lights and that too in foreign conditions such as Australia. With the hosts under pressure for a change, India were not going to squander a golden opportunity by taking on a huge risk and gamble and promptly turned down the request. Besides, Australia do enjoy a five out of five wins as far as Test cricket under floodlights at home go. Why would India hand such a huge impetus on a silver platter?
But Australia’s grouse should really be with the International Cricket Council (ICC) policy mandating the mutual consent for a day Test to be turned into a day and night format. Australia’s negotiations in the board room may need looking up. Instead Paine attempted to be smart when he took a dig at the first international batsman to score a Test century in the day and night Test cricket format.
Virat Kohli, who scored his twenty-seventh Test century in the match against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, became the target of Australia’s Test captain when pressed if Australia would want India to play a day and night Test on their tour down under next year now that India had a sampling for the affair under floodlights.
Paine mockingly stated that it would depend on Kohli’s mood and whether India were feeling generous. It was an obvious dig at India for turning down Australia’s request. Stung by the ball tampering scandal and hampered in the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner, Paine has not had an easy time of it as the captain of a beleaguered Australian team. That series loss is still obviously rankling. That and the fact, that India had outplayed Australia in the board room and on the field.
All things considered, while Australia would like to hold onto that grouse a little longer, knowing that they had been handed a strategic ploy for all and sundry to see, it is hard to see Australia not playing similar tactics had the shoe been on the other foot.