Yet, the format has yielded its place at the top to the slam-bang version which now fills the international calendar, thanks to increased spectator interest. Day-night Test matches were one of the solutions introduced in 2015 to revive its fortunes. Relatively new, the format has added some zing to the five-day version, since all 18 matches played under lights so far have yielded results.
Indeed, one of the flip sides of Test matches under lights is that none of them have been played on all five days. Match No. 19, between India and Sri Lanka, which gets underway at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here on Saturday, could well be another bar in that statistic.
Given that the version is still new, every match is uncharted territory for the players. Both India and Sri Lanka have played three pink-ball Tests each and have achieved similar results. India won two at home and lost to Australia in Adelaide, while Sri Lanka have wins against Pakistan and West Indies. Their lone loss too was against Australia.
The previous two pink-ball matches in India were played in different conditions to what one can expect in Bengaluru. In the first against Bangladesh in Kolkata, the pacers called the shots, with the conditions offering swing and seam. In Ahmedabad in February last year, it was the spinners who made merry with Axar Patel (11 wickets) and R Ashwin (7) turning in devastating spells against England.
Cut to Bengaluru and there is nothing in it but pride for Sri Lanka. India are up 1-0 in the two-match series after a commanding innings and 222-run victory in Mohali. Sri Lanka were outplayed in the three-match T20 series that preceded the Tests and pride is all that the islanders have left to salvage. India, on the other hand, would like to keep their opponents on the mat, especially with ICC World Test Championship points at stake.
Since 2010, the city has been a happy hunting ground for the home team, as it has won four of the five Tests played here. The strip is mostly brown with a hint of grass, but with a maximum temperature of 32 degrees, the first two sessions could be a batter’s game. With Axar Patel back in the mix, Ravindra Jadeja on fire and the experience of R Ashwin, it will be interesting to see if India will stick to three spinners and two seamers. Sri Lanka too will bank on their spin wealth to come good.
The return of the seasoned Kusal Mendis, who comes in place of Pathum Nissanka (back injury) will add spice to the spin line-up which includes Lasith Embuldeniya and Dhananjaya de Silva. Fitness issues plague the visitors as an injured Lahiru Kumara has returned home and will be replaced by left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama.
On the Indian batting front, Virat Kohli, whose last Test century came in the pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in 2019, will look to be back among the big numbers, while opener Mayank Agarwal will want to make his maiden international appearance on home turf count. Skipper Rohit Sharma too has played some memorable innings at this venue, including an ODI double hundred against Australia, and a big Test knock is awaited.