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Powerplay In Cricket Everything You Need To Know


Powerplay In Cricket: All The Information You Need To Know


Powerplay in cricket is the most buzzed cricketing term when it comes to limited-overs cricket. A challenge for the bowlers, it is a boon for the batsmen. Powerplay limits the fielders out of the 30-yard circle that allows the batsmen to free their arms and go for the big hits. Powerplay has truly made the game of cricket exhilarating.

The concept of powerplay in cricket is a bit complex but you will be overwhelmed to get hold of it after you understand the basic rules of the game. The rules of powerplay in cricket have seen a transition over decades and the blog will cover the entire information about a power play.


What is a Powerplay in Cricket?

Powerplay in cricket is a key term that is used to refers special fielding restrictions for a given set of overs during a limited-overs cricket match. During the powerplay in a cricket match, a maximum of only two fielders is allowed outside the 30-yard circle. A powerplay consists of 10-overs in an ODI match and 6-overs in a T-20 match. Test match neither consists of power-play nor any fielding restrictions.

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

What is a 30-yard circle in cricket?

A 30-yard circle in cricket refers to a distance of 30-yard from the stumps that are placed on the cricket pitch. The 30-yard circle is marked with white strips at regular intervals. It plays an important role in limited-overs cricket as it comes into enforcement for the entire game. The captain continuously overlooks the fielders in and out of the power play throughout the match.

How does a Powerplay in cricket work?

Powerplay in cricket is a period of a specified set of rules and regulations that govern a limited-overs match for a particular set of overs. Powerplay formalizes the position of fielders during an ODI or a T-20 match. The rules are different in ODI and a T-20 match. The rules of powerplay have evolved and changed over time. 

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

Who regulates the Powerplay rules?

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is solely responsible for developing and making necessary changes to the rules and regulations of the powerplay. The power play laws are formulated in consideration with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) rules. Since then, they are continuously monitored and regulated by the ICC.

Powerplay in One Day International (ODI) matches:

The ICC has laid down various power play rules in specification to the ODI format. ODI format is one of the oldest formats of the game and many developments in powerplay rules has been witnessed in the format. The latest power play rules in the 50-over ODI matches are:

  • Mandatory Powerplay: The mandatory powerplay consists of the first 10-overs of an uninterrupted ODI match. In the first 10-overs of both innings, a maximum of 2 fielders is allowed outside the inner ring of the 30-yard circle. The mandatory powerplay is beneficial for the batsmen.
  • Powerplay II: The second powerplay comes into place from the 11th to 40th over of an ODI match. This is the longest-serving power play where the batsmen set and keep on rotating the strike. A maximum of 4 fielders is allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • Bowling Powerplay: The death overs aid the bowlers to restrict the batting total. The last powerplay in an ODI match is enforced from the 41st to the 50th over. A maximum of 5 fielders is allowed to operate outside the 30-yard circle.

Note: It is important to note that the powerplay overs are subject to get altered in case of rain-interrupted matches.

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

Powerplay in T-20 Matches

The powerplay regulations in T-20 matches are not complex. The ICC has laid down the powerplay rules and regulations for T-20 International matches. Here are the rules of power play in T-20 matches:

  • Powerplay I: (Overs 1-6) The initial six overs of a T-20 match are redefined for the batsmen. The bowlers face a nasty threat from the fierce opening batsmen as a maximum of 2 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • Powerplay II: (Overs 6-20) The power play restrictions after 6 overs are uniform and there are no changes till the last ball is bowled. A maximum of 5 fielders is allowed outside the 30-yard circle after the end of the first power play.
  • Leg Side Rule: ICC laid down a unique rule in consideration with the power play that is applicable only in T-20 International matches. The leg side rule states that a maximum of 5 fielders is allowed on the leg side at any given point of the match.

Note: The rules for T-20 matches are identical in World Cup as well as domestic cricket leagues such as IPL.

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

How did Powerplay emerge?

The emergence of powerplay in cricket is dated back to the inception of ODI cricket in the 1970s. The rules and regulations of powerplay in T-20 matches haven’t seen any rapid changes but the rules in an ODI match have been evolved under its transitional phase. To gain knowledge of powerplay’s inception, let’s have a look at the history of powerplay:

History of Powerplay In Cricket

The limited-overs ODI format was introduced in the 1970s. Before that, the Test cricket format was widely recognized and played. After the cricketing nations started to play limited-overs cricket, the batsmen failed to equip themselves to the pace of the game. They found it difficult to change their mindset to play ODI cricket.

Notably, we can find real-life examples of the aforementioned theory. The ODI innings of Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar proved that the batsmen found it difficult to adapt to the format. Gavaskar scored 36 runs off 174 balls in a 60-over game against West Indies. This is still considered as one of the slowest innings in the ODI format of the game.

The defensive nature of batsmen saw them struggling in ODI format. This posed a great threat to the countries as the World cup was also introduced in 1975. To overcome this major batsmen challenge, the concept of power play and fielding restrictions were brought in by the governing body. This gave the batsmen a chance to free their arms and play aggressively.

Introduction of Field Restrictions (1980)

The rules related to fielding restrictions and power play were first introduced in an ODI match in Australia in 1980. The immediate restrictions and relief to the batsmen came in an announcement that restricted the number of fielders outside the 30-yard circle. The new fielding restrictions that were announced included a maximum of 3 fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle for the first ten overs.

The changes that the first powerplay law brought in were:

  • The batsmen were able to change their mentality and found opportunities to score in the powerplay. They found it economical and feasible to take risks to score quick runs for the team. The enforced field restrictions helped the batsmen to galvanize their batting style and nature.
  • As the batsmen took risks, the bowlers also found it easy to claim wickets in the initial phase of the match. Bowlers focused on their abilities rather than being curious about the fielding restrictions. The bowlers bowled at tighter lines and fascinating pace as they were successful in claiming wickets of unsettled batsmen.
  • The fielding restrictions made the game more exhilarating. The cricket-playing teams registered competitive totals in the first innings and were chased through a steady effort by the opponent. The notable transition was visible in the batting performance of Sir Vivian Richards who adopted a naturally attacking game in ODI matches.
  • The first set of rules were named Fielding restrictions and not powerplay. However, their rules were somewhat similar and the term power play came into enforcement at a later stage.
Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket – (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The First changes to the Field Restrictions (1992)

The first set of rules and regulations were imposed at all the international ODI matches. The fielding restrictions also played a crucial role at the World Cup in 1983, 1987, and 1992. After the World Cup of 1992, ICC amended the fielding restrictions rule and brought in some minor changes. The introduction of catching position was an innovative concept brought in by the governing body.

As per the new rules of the ICC, the bowling team was required to have at least two fielders in the catching position during the phase of the field restrictions at the start.

What does the Catching position refer to?

The catching position is a circular area on a cricket field within a radius of 15 yards from the wickets on the cricket pitch. Therefore, there were two circles of 15 yards each from either side of the wicket as the center of the game respectively. 

The changes brought by ICC saw no major development as the earlier rule of two fielders outside the 30-yard circle was still applicable.

Introduction of Powerplay and field restrictions amendment (2005)

The ODI format was set to welcome its younger brother in the form of a T-20 match. T-20 cricket brought with it the most rapid developments in the field restrictions as the concept of power play was introduced in 2005. The ICC officially named the fielding restrictions as a power play and brought in some interesting changes in the fielding restrictions that are as follows:

  • The set of overs for which the powerplay was initiated were increased from 15 to 20 overs.
  • The 20-over powerplay in cricket was divided into a set of 10 overs and two sets of 5-overs each.
  • The 2-fielder catching position regulation was now reduced to 10-overs from the initial 15-over rule.
  • The bowling team was now allowed to choose two sets of 5-over powerplay from any overs between 11-45.

The concept of Mandatory Powerplay was also introduced. The first 10-overs on an ODI match dictated compulsory fielding restrictions. The allowance for the bowling team to choose the powerplay overs gave liberty to the captain as he assessed the situation and could postpone the powerplay according to the performance of his bowlers.

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

Powerplay rules amendment (2008)

A major amendment to the powerplay rules was made in 2008. According to the change brought in by the ICC, the batting team was now given the choice to choose the period of one out of the two 5-over powerplays in an ODI match. The objective of the amendment was to increase the scoring rate of batsmen in the middle overs.

What was the motive of the 2008 amendment?

The batsmen scored quick runs in the initial period and then settled to accelerate the scoring rate after a brief period. To enhance the excitement in the middle overs, the amendment was brought in by ICC. In times when batsmen settled in the middle overs, the batting team got the liberty to score runs at a quick pace and register a competitive total.

Were the 2008 changes successful?

Initially, the introduction of batting powerplay in cricket yielded positive results as the batsmen accelerated the scoring rate. However, the batsmen also took risks in the powerplay that resulted in the loss of wickets. This ended up with the captains looking to take the batting powerplay in the last five overs, ending the glory of the 2008 amendment.

Powerplay Rules second amendment (2012)

The ICC brought in some serious changes to the powerplay rules in 2012. The 2012 amendment ensured that the batting powerplay does not coincide with the death overs. The experiment of the 2012 amendment was done in 2011 where the batting and bowling powerplay could only be implemented between 16-36 overs and does not coincide.

In the 2012 Powerplay Rules changes, ICC reduced the number of powerplays to 2. These were the mandatory 10-over powerplay at the start and a batting powerplay that could be taken anytime between the 16th and the 36th over. Along with this, a reduction in the maximum number of fielders outside the 30-yard circle from 5 to 4 was also witnessed.

Q. What was the impact of the 2012 amendment?

The 2012 amendment helped the batsmen to score runs at a higher pace. The era after 2012 saw high-scoring totals recorded by the batting teams. It provided an unfair advantage to the batsmen as the bowlers struggled to take wickets at regular intervals.

Powerplay In Cricket
Powerplay In Cricket

Powerplay Rule 2015 (Present)

After a series of development in the powerplay rules and regulations, ICC closed all the speculations and introduced a balanced powerplay plan of action in 2015. These rules are enforced till the present date ODI matches. Here are the latest powerplay rules laid down by ICC:

  • A total of 3 powerplays will now exist in an ODI match.
  • The 3 powerplays are mandatory and the concept of batting and bowling powerplay was abandoned.
  • The first 10 overs will be the first powerplay where a maximum of 2 players will be allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • The second powerplay between 11th to 40th over will allow the captain to place a maximum of 4 players outside the 30-yard circle.
  • The third and final powerplay will come into play from the 41st to 50th over where a maximum of 5 fielders will be allowed outside the 30-yard circle.

The final powerplay helped the bowlers to get a competitive advantage as they were earlier neglected. The 2015 amendment is considered to be the most balanced one as it benefited both, the batsmen as well as the bowlers.

Powerplay: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q. What is a Batting powerplay?

A batting powerplay in cricket was brought into place in the 2008 powerplay amendment. The term batting powerplay refers to the set of 5 overs that were chosen by the batting team during an inning where field restrictions were imposed on the bowling team.

Earlier, batting powerplay in cricket could be taken any time in the innings but the ICC later issued a compulsion to use the batting powerplay between 16-36th over. The batting powerplay policy was scrapped in 2015.

Q. What is Bowling powerplay?

The term bowling powerplay in cricket was introduced by ICC in 2008 which allowed the bowling team to choose any given set of overs as powerplay where fielding restrictions would be relaxed and become a troublemaker for the batsmen. Bowling powerplay was scrapped in the 2012 amendment.

Q. What do P1, P2, and P3 refer to in terms of powerplay in cricket?

  • P1, P2, and P3 are the common terms that are assigned to the powerplays in a cricket match. 
  • P1 refers to Powerplay 1 that is the mandatory powerplay from 1-10 overs. Only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • P2 refers to Powerplay 2 that is applicable from 11-40 overs.
  • Four fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • P3 refers to Powerplay 3 that is enforced from 41-50 overs.
  • Five fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.

Q. Is there any powerplay in Test cricket?

A. No, there are no fielding restrictions in a test match. Test match is a slow format and composes of five days. A captain can place fielders as per his will and match conditions. The test match cannot be made interesting with powerplay as it has various limitations. 

Also Read – What Is Strike Rate In Cricket? How is Strike Rate calculated? – All You Need To Know



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