In One-Day International cricket, teams have the choice when to take the batting and bowling power plays. These two periods of five overs only permit the fielding team to have a maximum of three fielders outside the 30 yard circle. So, how have tactics dictated when teams take these periods of play so far in the tournament?
The first, mandatory power play always takes place in the first ten overs of an innings. There have been 83 innings so far in the tournament giving a total of 826 overs. New Zealand only faced eight overs batting second against Kenya, and Pakistan also only faced eight overs against Zimbabwe as their innings had been reduced due to rain.In those 826 overs, teams scored a total of 3954 runs and lost 117 wickets, giving a rate of 33.79 runs per wicket and 4.79 runs per over.
The bowling power play was taken in 79 of those innings, giving a total of 394 overs. Again the exception to the five overs is the Pakistan innings in which the bowling powerplay was reduced to four overs due to the shortened nature of the innings.
In those 394 overs, teams scored a total of 1791 runs and lost 49 wickets, giving a rate of 36.55 runs per wicket and 4.55 runs per over.
Unlike the first period of power play overs, which always occurs at the start of an innings, teams have a choice as to when to take the second and third power plays. Examining when they selected the bowling option, there is pretty much a common school of thought:
Of the 79 occasions when the bowling side took their block of power play overs, 71 took it as soon as it was available, with a further four merely delaying it by an over. The remaining four all took it at between the start of the 19th and 21st over, which left none to be taken in the second half of any innings.
The batting power play is a different matter. 63 innings saw this period of play taken with a total of 255.5 overs subject to its regulations. This gives an average of about four overs per power play, due to the fact that some matches ended while it was taking place, and some teams were dismissed before the power play had been completed.
In those 255.5 overs, teams scored a total of 2011 runs and lost 92 wickets, giving a rate of 21.86 runs per wicket and 7.86 runs per over.
However, whereas the bowling power play was taken at pretty much the same time by every team – generally as early as possible – teams differed in their tactics as to when they considered the best time to take the batting power play.
The most popular time – with 14 occurrences – was at the start of the 46th over – that is – as late as possible. This could be due to wickets having fallen regularly over the course of the innings, with each incoming batsman not sure of whether to make the choice to take the powerplay. 42 of the 63 teams who took the batting power play waited until at least the start of the 41st over to do so, with only three deciding to take the plunge before the 30th over of their innings – with all three winning the match batting second.
It certainly appears that teams have come to the same conclusion as to when is the best time to take the bowling power play. But as for batting, the jury is very much out for now. However, it should be noted that the teams who left it as late as possible only ended up averaging only 10.96 runs per wicket and 5.82 runs per over in their batting power play – both well down on the overall average. Perhaps they should have considered taking it earlier when there may have been more skilled batsmen at the crease.