Each season, the Indian Premier League (IPL) introduces some innovative elements to make it better and more exciting.
The 2023 season of the cash-rich league will be no different. Cricket fans will see the introduction of the 'Impact Player' rule and the return of the home-and-away format.
The word 'exciting' naturally comes to everybody's mind when someone talks about 'new' things in life or in general. Likewise, the 'Impact Player' rule and return of the home and away format will completely change the dynamics of the IPL.
A number of team sports like football, rugby, basketball, baseball allow teams to make tactical substitutions. Even in cricket, there have been various kinds of player 'substitutions' rule in different leagues but 2023 will be the first season to feature an Impact Player in IPL.
What is the Impact Player rule and how is it going to work?
According to the Impact Player rule, a team will have to list four substitutes at the toss, in addition to the playing XI. They can use any one of the four subs as their Impact Player.
A captain can bring the Impact Player in before the start of an innings; at the end of an over; and at the fall of a wicket or when a batter retires. However, if the bowling side brings in an Impact Player during an over -- at the fall of a wicket or if a batter retires -- they will not be allowed to bowl the remaining balls of the over.
The rule further says that the replaced player will play no further part in the game, not even as a substitute fielder. As far as the restriction, if a team names four overseas players in their starting XI, then they can only bring in an Indian as the Impact Player. This is to limit the number of overseas players per game to four per team.
However, if a team starts with only three or fewer overseas players in their XI, then they can bring in an overseas player as the Impact Player but they will have had to have nominated the overseas player as part of their four substitutes at the toss.
When the bowling team brings in their Impact Player, they will be allowed to bowl their full quota of four overs irrespective of the number of overs bowled by the player they are replacing. Also, there will be no change in the implementation of the Impact Player rule if "a delayed start reduces the total amount of overs available to both sides to less than 20 overs per innings prior to the commencement of the match".
Return of the Home and Away format
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, IPL has been held at only a few venues. In 2020, the league was played behind closed doors across three venues in the UAE -- Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
In 2021 too, the tournament was held across four venues -- Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Chennai. The four stadiums of Maharashtra hosted all the leagues matches of the IPL 2022 season except the playoffs and final in Kolkata and Ahmedabad respectively.
However, with the pandemic under control as of now and the BCCI organising a full-fledged domestic season, the cash-rich league will return to its old format in which each team plays one home and one away match.
With IPL returning to the traditional home and away basis, teams will have to make their strategies and finalise their playing XI accordingly. The CSK will return to Chepauk Stadium where their spinners will play a big role while MI will enjoy the pace and bounce at Wankhede Stadium.
Likewise, every team will have home conditions in their favour and the fans' support as well. The likes of Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants are only one season old, so it will be interesting to see how they take advantage of their home grounds in Ahmedabad and Lucknow respectively.
On Friday, the franchise also picked the players during the IPL 2023 mini-auction, keeping the 'Impact Player' rule and home and away format in mind. Overall, things are looking sorted and an exciting season of T20 cricket in IPL await fans in India and across the world.