IPL 2023 | All you need to know about the innovative Impact Player rule

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The Indian Premier League has taken a big step towards enhancing creativity and tactics in the league with the introduction of the novel Impact Player rule. While the regulation was also a part of the SMAT last year, the BCCI has made several changes to the stipulations for its marquee tournament.

The rate at which cricket is evolving in the modern age is unprecedented, be it Bazball in Test cricket or the introduction of non-conventional leagues such as the Hundred. The Indian Premier League, often a pioneer in the game's shortest format, has ensured they keep up with the times by introducing a novelty for the upcoming tournament season, namely the Impact Player rule. Albeit not entirely a new concept, as the Big Bash League showcased with its X-Factor Rule in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the BCCI's plans are much more radical with the rule having the potential to change the tide of a game. The authorities already tested it out in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022, India's domestic T20 tournament, and have made only one major tweak in how the regulation would work in the IPL.

How many impact players per team?

Each team is allowed to use one impact player in a game and must be amongst the four substitutes named in the team sheet ahead of the start of the encounter. To ensure the teams can utilize the regulation to its fullest potential, for the first time in league history the captains won't be asked to name their XI at the toss. Instead, the sides can list their four substitutes after knowing the result of the coin flip to optimize their lineups accordingly.

When can the impact player be used?

Unlike the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where an impact player could only be brought on up to the 14th over, the IPL has no restrictions as to when the 12th man can be called into play. If a franchise opts to use their Impact Player while batting, they would either have to retire one of the two batters at the crease or send the player in immediately after a dismissal. As for the bowling side, the Impact Player can be employed at the end of any over and if he is brought in in the middle of an over, he won't be allowed to bowl until the next over begins.

How can the Impact Player be used?

There are no restrictions over the extent to which an Impact Player can be involved in a certain game once called on by his team. For instance, if Kolkata Knight Riders bowl first and Umesh Yadav delivers three overs in the powerplay, before replacing him with Shardul Thakur, the latter will be allowed to bowl the entirety of his four overs while also bolstering the team's batting for the second innings. Similarly, a team can replace a dismissed batter with the Impact Player as long as one of the remaining batters does not take the crease to forbid a team from having 11 wickets at their disposal.

Who can be the Impact Player?

If the Impact Player to be used is Indian, he can replace any of the playing XI at the time. However, a team can only make use of a foreign Impact Player if they have three or fewer players from abroad in the starting lineup. Alternatively, if a team has four foreign players in their XI but one or more of them have not bowled or batted in the game, they can be replaced as well be a fellow player from abroad. Essentially, a team would still only be able to obtain contributions from four foreigners in a game to keep with the BCCI's policy from season 1 of having seven domestic players in a lineup.

What happens to the subbed player?

The player that is replaced in lieu of an Impact Player is allowed to take no further part in the game, not even as a substitute fielder.

What happens in the case of a curtailed game?

The Impact Player rule remains unaffected by any usual playing circumstances. If there is a revised bowling quota, the Impact Player would simply be bound to the modified regulations but all other regulations would stay exactly the same. Notably, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy scrapped the Impact Player rule if the game was cut down to less than 10 overs an innings, a restriction the BCCI has done away with for the IPL.

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