The new Powerplay rule, where the batting side gets to choose one of the two five-over sets with field restrictions, has forced captains to think on their feet. The rule, which came into use last October during the New Zealand-Bangladesh series, allows three instead of two fielders outside the circle in the second and third Powerplays.
The ICC decision came in the backdrop of the increasing popularity of T20 and experts felt it would give the batting side an added edge in ODIs. But in the six matches India have played with this new rule — five against England and one here — it still has not helped the batting side as much as expected. “We are still trying to come to terms with it,” says India skipper MS Dhoni. Dhoni calls it “tricky” and feels it’s an advantage for the team batting second provided it has big hitters down in its order. Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene agrees on the “tricky” part but believes it’s an impromptu decision a skipper has to make.
“When you are batting second and have big hitters down in the batting order you can chase down more than 80 runs in the last 10 overs if you hold back the Powerplay till the 40th over. At the moment, the new Powerplay is making it more interesting and tough for the captains,” Dhoni said.
“It’s a little difficult,” Jayawardene said. “It all depends on the wicket and the situation we are in. A couple of times we took it when our openers well set and that worked for us and sometimes we have taken it towards the end. You can’t actually say that this is the best time. You have to go with the flow and see what would work for you. Sometimes it has come off and sometimes it hasn’t. We are still trying to figure out a way where we would be comfortable.”
“The tricky part is if a batting side takes a powerplay early, the bowling side gets an opportunity to pick up wickets. Again if you keep it for too late you might have already lost wickets by then,” Mahela added.
But one thing that’s working for India is Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan bowling during the batting Powerplay. They had struck during the England series and on Wednesday the pair removed Jayasuriya and Thilina Kandamby.