INDIA must play exciting Test cricket to entertain the crowds, skipper Virat Kohli said after defeating New Zealand, amid waning interest in the game’s longest form.
India regained the top spot in the world rankings in Tests and sealed the three-match series against New Zealand with a comprehensive 178-run victory in Kolkata on October 3.
The series against the Black Caps marks the start of a packed programme of international cricket for India who also host England, Bangladesh and Australia later this season.
Kohli said players needed to interact with the crowd during Tests, in a similar fashion to the high-energy, limited-overs games.
“You saw how engaged the crowd was, they like to see exciting cricket, and we have to provide it,” Kohli said after winning the second match in Kolkata to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
“You have to interact with them, you have to make sure they are a part of the whole thing. You feed off their energy. It happens so much in limited overs, so why not in Test cricket?”
The comments come as Test cricket struggles to find an audience in the Twenty20 era, prompting last year’s introduction of day-night Tests played under lights with a pink ball in Australia.
Former cricket greats including Shane Warne and some cricket board chiefs have also flagged slashing the format from five to four days.
But controversial plans to create a two-tier Test system have been scrapped by cricket’s world governing body after India’s powerful board led a backlash.
Kohli’s comments came as the third Test between India and New Zealand was thrown into doubt on October 4, with a row raging between the Indian board and a supreme court-appointed panel charged with its reform.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said it was unclear if the match would go ahead on October 8 after it said the panel had ordered banks to block payments to its state associations.
“This is a very unfortunate situation for the BCCI,” BCCI president Anurag Thakur told reporters.
“State unions will need to decide on this matter—whether they will host matches or not, in what condition they will host, with or without money.”
But former chief justice Rajendra Lodha, who heads the panel, said banks had been directed to halt “large” payments not “routine” ones, meaning matches could still go ahead.
“There is absolutely no prohibition,” Lodha told local media.
The panel issued the order following weeks of frustration over the BCCI’s decision to ignore several of its reforms that were recommended following corruption scandals last year.