Home-and-away system catapults new rules into the spotlight

New Delhi:  After the 2022 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) made a return to Indian shores, the 2023 edition, set to start from March 31, is all set to be bigger, better and longer.

It will be the first time since 2019 that all ten teams will be playing at their respective home venues. IPL 2023 also sees the return to its usual home-and-away format after a hiatus of three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though the pandemic hasn’t completely gone away, there are no bio-bubbles as teams regroup and renew their focus of battling out for the most coveted T20 trophy in the cricketing world.

The return of home-and-away format means fans in various venues can have the opportunity of seeing their favourite Indian and overseas players in action in their home cities.

With no air travel last year for teams, it meant that players weren’t having much of travel load. But with the IPL this year going back to home-and-away format, it presents a challenge for players and support staff to keep themselves fresh in terms of workload so that there isn’t drop in intensity, and constant travel doesn’t stop them from putting their best version on match days.

Moreover, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) monitoring the workload of Indian players in view of the ODI World Cup selection, it also presents a new challenge to franchises to get the best out of those players while managing the indications from the top brass.

What has added more to the excitement around the 2023 season of the IPL will be the impact player rule, which was first brought in 2022’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. All ten teams need to identify five substitutes who are Indian players apart from the playing eleven during toss time.

The playing eleven will be named after the toss. Out of the substitutes named, only one player can be used as an Impact Player. It is left up to the teams whether they want to use the impact player in a match or not.

A team can bring an impact player before the start of the innings or after completion of an over. In case of a batter, the change can be done at the fall of the wicket or the batter retiring at any time during the over.

Moreover, the bowling side can also bring in an Impact Player during the fall of a wicket, but he will not be permitted to bowl the remaining balls in the over if the wicket has fallen mid-over.

Other interesting rules include: – only 4 fielders will be allowed outside 30 yards if the team failed to bowl overs in allocated time. Teams can now review wides and no-balls using DRS, as first seen during the Women’s Premier League (WPL). Unfair movement of the wicketkeeper or fielder will result in a dead ball and five penalty runs.

For the teams, there will be a lot of pointers to prove during the course of the tournament. Mumbai Indians, the most successful side in the competition, will be aiming to make a turnaround from their bottom-place finish last year. Kieron Pollard has graduated from a player to a batting coach, while Jofra Archer is available for the upcoming season.

With no Jasprit Bumrah and Jhye Richardson, responsibility to shoulder Mumbai’s challenge is enormous on captain Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Tilak Verma, Tim David and Cameron Green.

Hardik Pandya had led Gujarat Titans to the trophy in 2022 in their first outing of the competition. With new additions in Kane Williamson, Shivam Mavi, as well as Hardik captaining India in white-ball games, and Shubman Gill in scintillating form, the squad looks better to defend their title.

For the Chennai Super Kings, it will be a chance to give MS Dhoni a possible perfect farewell. With Ravindra Jadeja, Devon Conway, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Ruturaj Gaikwad in their ranks, Dhoni will have to lead from the front and give reasons for happiness to the yellow army.

Rajasthan Royals, who finished runners-up last year, will be itching to do one better with their core group of players still in the side. Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, captain Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag will be key with the bat.

With the ball, onus lies on Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Sen, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Jason Holder, especially with no Prasidh Krishna in their ranks.

At Royal Challengers Bangalore, all eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who has found form since September 2022. He, Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar and Mohammed Siraj will hold the key for the franchise to have a shot at winning their maiden IPL title.

With a new captain-coach duo in Aiden Markram and Brian Lara, Sunrisers Hyderabad have a strong batting line-up on paper, apart from some well-known names in the bowling department.

There’s a captain and coach change in Punjab Kings too, with Shikhar Dhawan and Trevor Bayliss at the helm. Despite no Jonny Bairstow, they still have talented players to give other teams a run for their money, like Sam Curran.

Through captaining Lucknow Super Giants, who have collected a good bunch of players, KL Rahul will be eager to show his leadership skills as well as an enhancement with the bat as an opener.

For Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders, they have to look around ways to cover up the void left by the absence of their captains-cum-mainstays Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer respectively.

While Pant is unavailable for the foreseeable future as he continues his recovery from his injuries from a serious car accident last year, Iyer has been laid low by lower back issues which have left a question mark on his participation in IPL 2023.

Above all, IPL 2023 promises to be another exciting season of T20 cricket, with different venues, pitches and new rules in place. Fasten your seatbelts, as next two months are sure to be a thrilling ride, either you watch the tournament on TV or stream it on your mobile phone.

-IANS

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