Meet Big Blue: The heavy roller that led to Team India’s downfall in South Africa

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New Delhi | Published: January 10, 2018 11:44:30 AM

After being bundled out for a modest total of 209 runs in the first innings, the Indian cricket team did well to restrict South Africa to just 130 runs in the second innings, setting a target of 208 runs for themselves. With a batting order full of star names, chasing this down wasn't a tough task, or at least it seemed like.

india vs south africa, india vs south africa test, ind vs sa, ind vs sa test, india vs south africa test series, india vs south africa 2018, india vs south africa 2018 test, big blue, what is big blue, virat kohli, kohli, sports news, cricket newsNewlands curator Evan Flint poses with the ground’s heavy roller — Big Blue. (Source: Express Photo)

After being bundled out for a modest total of 209 runs in the first innings, the Indian cricket team did well to restrict South Africa to just 130 runs in the second innings, setting a target of 208 runs for themselves. With a batting order full of star names, chasing this down wasn’t a tough task, or at least it seemed like. Indian captain Virat Kohli wanted a hard-pressed pitch to chase this total down. So, in came ‘Big Blue’, Newland’s heavy roller.

Now, there is no proof of this but, the anecdotal evidence says that the use of a heavy roller could have played a big role in spicing up the surface and shortening India’s stay at the wicket. It is believed that more pressure on the surface leads to moisture being squeezed out. Often, a heavy roller can also end up making a surface faster, helping the seamers.

Result? India had a disastrous outing in the second innings as the side was bowled out for 135 runs, losing the match by 72 runs. Interestingly, Virat Kohli had opted for the light roller at the end of South Africa’s 1st innings. The Cape Town pitch curator Evan Flint also believes that Big Blue could be a big reason behind India’s loss.

“I thought Kohli was quite clever on Day 1. He used the small roller at the change of innings. It didn’t liven the pitch up or anything. Sometimes, the heavy roller can quicken the pitch up but take the seam movement out. Look, it’s not based on research. Most of it is anecdotal,” he told The Indian Express.

Flint, however, believes that the awareness about the local history and conditions play a big role in making such decision. The choice is obviously easier for the home captain while the visiting team has to inquire about the pitch and how it behaves.

Over the years, it has become a tradition to mention the name of every centurion and five-wicket taker in Newlands, on the Big Blue. There are several big names on the giant including Younis Khan, David Warner and other Newlands heroes. Now, Vernon Philander’s name will be added too.

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