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Powerplay dilemma to haunt World Cup captains

Batting powerplay can be a double-edged sword and the popular perception is that the captains will need to handle it with care in the World Cup.

cricket Updated: Feb 17, 2011 18:12 IST

Batting powerplay can be a double-edged sword and the popular perception is that the captains will need to handle it with care in the World Cup.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), in its bid to spice up the 50-over version, currently allows fielding restrictions for 20 overs in an innings, which is divided into three blocks.

The first 10 overs in each innings allow just two fielders outside the 30-yard circle while captains are allowed to have three fielders outside during the other two blocks of five overs each -- termed bowling and batting powerplays.

On the placid subcontinent wickets, the powerplay overs can turn out to be a deciding factor during the World Cup and batsmen, eager to take advantage of fielding restrictions, have to guard against recklessness.

"The powerplays are going to be very crucial in this World Cup. It can prove to be the difference," former Indian opener and commentator Arun Lal told Reuters.

Captains have often struggled with the timing of the batting powerplay and teams have lost wickets in a heap to fall short of desired totals in the end.

"Even now teams don't know when to take it. It is a double-edged sword," Lal said.

"Many times it backfires on you and you actually play into the hands of the opposition.

"It's a difficult thing to master and I haven't seen lot of teams being able to decide when exactly to take it."

The captains mostly prefer to take the bowling one straight after the mandatory first 10 overs of powerplay to take advantage of the hardness of the new ball.

But the jury is out on the ideal time to take batting powerplay.

A lot of teams have waited till the end to opt for the five-over restrictions and some have taken it immediately after the mandatory change of the ball in the 34th over.

"You are supposed to take batting powerplay only when you are in a position to take a few risks," Lal continued.

"You take the powerplay to increase the run-rate and it suddenly changes the outlook of the batsmen and he can then make a mistake."

Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also likes opting for powerplay with wickets in hand.

"That is only because teams opt for it at the wrong time, probably," Harbhajan told Cricinfo, when asked why teams lose so many wickets during the powerplay.

"The best way to take it is to keep wickets in hand.

"If after 25 overs the team is 150 for two, and say, one batsman is on 60 and the other on 50, I will take the batting powerplay straightaway."