What is Powerplay in Cricket World Cup and how does it affect the game?

What is Powerplay in Cricket World Cup and how does it affect the game?

The Powerplay in cricket forces fielding captains to restrict the number of fielders they can have outside the 30-yard circle.

First things first, what is a 30-yard circle?

The 30-yard circle is an elliptical area that has a radius of 30 yards when drawn from the middle of a cricket pitch. It is typically painted on the cricket ground and is used as a guide for the teams and umpires for the fielding restrictions law in cricket.

Why is a 30-yard circle important?

The 30-yard circle is an indicator for the number of fielders that are allowed outside of it during a particular phase in a game of cricket.

Unlike in Test cricket where teams have five days to force a win with a draw being an option too, ODI and T20I cricket have a stipulated number of overs in which a result is found.

In order to discourage the teams from putting all their fielders at the boundary fence to reduce the scoring rate, the Powerplay in cricket rule was introduced and in turn, the 30-yard circle was also brought into the game.

What is the current Powerplay in cricket law?

The Powerplay in cricket law has changed multiple times in cricket since its inception in the early 1980s and we will look at its history in the second below. Currently, the 2023 World Cup will see three Powerplays – or phases of an ODI innings – in which a different number of maximum fielders are allowed.

In the first 10 overs of an ODI innings, a fielding team can have a maximum of two fielders outside the 30-yard circle. This is the first Powerplay in the innings.

The second Powerplay is between overs 11 to 40 in which up to four fielders are allowed outside that circle while in the third, between 41st to 50th, an extra fielder can go out to make it five outside the circle.

Please note, the above figures denote the maximum number of fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle – captains can have fewer fielders outside the circle as well.

What happens if there are more fielders outside the circle than permitted?

If, at the time of the bowler delivering the ball, there are more fielders outside the 30-yard circle than are allowed by the current Powerplay law, then the umpire will need to call a no-ball. This will result in a free hit, i.e. off the next delivery, the batsman cannot be dismissed in any way other than a run-out.

What happens in rain-affected World Cup 2023 matches?

The number of overs associated with each of the three Powerplays will reduce in matches that see a reduction in the number of overs because of inclement weather or any other reason.

This amendment is decided by the on-field umpires in conjunction with the match referee.

History of the Powerplay in cricket

In the very early days of ODIs, the most popular rule associated with the Powerplay in cricket was when the fielding team was allowed only two fielders outside the circle for the first 15 overs and then this number went up to five for the remainder of the innings.

Fielding teams were also required to have two of those in-circle fielders at ‘catching positions’, about 15 yards from the batsman.

Former New Zealand opener Mark Greatbatch was one of the first batsmen to take advantage of this rule by hitting the bowlers over the top of the fielders in the first 15 overs of the innings.

Powerplay in cricket
Photo by Icon Sport

This became a norm later with Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar promoted from his usual middle-order spot to an opener to go after the bowlers at that stage of the match.

This rule has been tweaked around over the years too.

For instance, the first 10 overs constituted one portion of the Powerplay in cricket while the fielding team had two five-over periods apiece to choose the other two Powerplay sections.

These two Powerplays of five overs apiece were later changed to batting and bowling Powerplays, with both, the batting and fielding teams having the option to take them as and when they needed.

There have been other changes to this too, before we have got to the current phase in which the three Powerplays are pre-decided and the batting and bowling teams have no say in the matter.

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