Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli was fined Rs. 12 lakh for maintaining a slow over-rate in Sunday’s match against the Chennai Super Kings. He thus became the fourth captain to be fined for this offense this season in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
While the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been designed to capitalize on the biggest attraction of the T20 format, the sheer pace of the game, and place it on prime time television, it has not delivered on the parameter of timeliness.
The teams have been guilty of taking it slow and stretching games well beyond the allotted time. The 8 o’clock start in the previous seasons often meant that matches stretched beyond midnight, often killing the interest of viewers. The event, which is primarily meant for viewing by the public after the day’s work, stretched well into the small hours.
Intending to bring in more discipline among the teams based on the feedback of experts and fans, BCCI brought in some stringent measures before the start of the 2021 IPL season. They made some changes to the minimum over-rate requirements and the prevailing sanctions.
However, has this resulted in a tangible improvement in over rates and match timings? Let’s have a look at how the matches have panned out this season.
Revised IPL playing conditions may not be the right answer for slow over rates
The BCCI did some fine-tuning to the IPL playing conditions before the start of the 2021 season to ensure compliance with the schedule. Minimum over-rates and allowances for delays are specified in these guidelines.
Minimum over rate as per the IPL playing conditions
The current IPL playing conditions specify that an uninterrupted innings has to be completed in 90 minutes including five minutes of strategic time-outs. This means that a minimum over-rate of 14.11 overs per hour has to be maintained by the teams.
Every match has to be completed within 3 hours and 20 minutes, allowing 20 minutes for the innings break. There could be other unforeseen breaks for which the match officials could give some allowance. The guidelines specify the events for this allowance as well.
(a) treatment given by authorized medical personnel to a player on the field of play;
(b) a player is required to leave the field of play as a result of a serious injury;
(c) all third umpire referrals and consultations;
(d) an allowance of 1 minute will be given for each of the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th wickets taken during the innings;
(e) time-wasting by the batting side
Disciplinary process and sanctions
(a) for the first offense as Captain of the bowling Team in a season the captain of the bowling team will be fined Rs. 12 lakh;
(b) for the second offense in a season as captain of the bowling team then the captain will be fined Rs. 24 lakh;
(c) for the second offense by the team in a season, each member of the playing XI in the team for the relevant match will be fined the lesser of Rs. 6 lakh and 25% of his Match Fee;
(d) for the third and each subsequent offense in a season as captain of the bowling team, the captain will be fined Rs. 30 lakh and banned from playing in the team’s next League Match;
(e) for the third and each subsequent offense in a season by the team, each member of the playing XI in the team for the relevant match will be fined the lesser of Rs. 12 lakh and 50% of his match fee.
How have the teams fared in this IPL?
When we look at the over rates maintained by the teams so far, we can draw a conclusion that the measures to bring in more discipline have not translated into any tangible results.
In the first 20 matches, four captains have been fined for not finishing their innings in time. Hence, a captain is being fined once every five matches for slow over-rate.
If we compare the scheduled finish time of the matches and the actual time the matches have finished, we will find that only three matches have completed with the stipulated time. And none of these four matches went the distance, with both teams completing their quota of 20 overs.
All day-night matches are scheduled to get done by 06:50 p.m. and the night matches are to be completed by 10:50 p.m. However, in the matches where at least 38 overs were bowled, the teams have missed the mark by an average of 24 minutes.
It is to be noted that the match officials have not fined the captains every time for a late finish because they give an allowance for the events during a game that is not in the control of the bowling side. But even if an allowance is made for the wickets that fell, reviews taken and the number of times the ball went into the stands, the teams have bowled at least 4 overs short on average.
The monetary fine employed in the IPL playing conditions may not be enough to make the teams comply. A better sanction will be one to affect the team’s fortunes in the game or the tournament.
This could be in the form of penalty runs for the opposition if the team doesn’t finish their overs in time. Or they could implement a deduction of points similar to what the ICC has introduced in the Test Championship. This will certainly inspire the whole team and the support staff to work together on the task of finishing their overs in time.