When should captains take the batting Power Play?

06 Feb 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Cricket Rules

The power play was introduced in mid 2005 when the 15 over field restrictions was done away with. The power play at its inception basically implied that in the first power play—(10 Overs) over-1 to 10 would have only two fielders outside the 30 yard circle. In the second and third power plays which the captain of the fielding side had the right to choose on when to take it. Each of 5 Overs. In the 2nd and the third power plays the captains were allowed a total of three fielders outside the 30 yard circle.

Recently, this rule has seen a change and that being the 3rd power play or also known as the batting power play is now in the hands of the batting side. The batsmen in the middle have a right to choose those set of 5 Overs anytime they wish to in the innings barring the first set of 10 Overs.

Although the batting power play was made so that it gives an edge to the batsman (not the first thing in favour of ‘em and be rest assured not the last). However, since its inception it’s only been working against the batsmen. Often in the punt to hit ‘em out of the ground; batsmen seem to lose their wickets which sets the tone for the remaining Overs. New batsmen come in and take their time to settle in and a look at the score board——whoosh! The power play is gone!

It is misunderstood that the power play should be taken when the team’s best batsmen are out in the middle. No, it should be taken when two batsmen are going well especially if one of ‘em is a big hitter. So that’s what should be done ideally speaking. However, that doesn’t tend to happen.

Most team keep the batting power play right until the end when they have ‘not much to lose’ i.e. even if the batting power play goes not as per plan it wouldn’t have a major effect on the eventual score. In other words it basically means under reliance on the power play or what critics would call ‘under utilization of the power play’.

What seems to baffle me is that if the batsmen are going to hell for leather in the last ten Overs whatever be the case then why waste the batting power play in that situation. It is all together a different matter if a team is 7 down by the 35th over and decides to keep the batting power play aside. However, that too could be a cause of concern as if less number of wickets have fallen that obviously means that a better batsman is at the crease and hence he will be able to make better use of the batting power play.

Hence, I would say that in most cases especially if wickets are in hand it is best that the batting power play is taken between the 35th and 40th over as there is a mandatory ball change in the 35th over in the innings. This will be a newer harder and more visible ball which would help the ball come on to the bat and could also be sighted with ease.

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