The domestic cricket season may have commenced last month with the Duleep Trophy. But the real deal will begin on Tuesday with the league stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, one of the three inter-state senior men’s cricket championships.
Besides witnessing whether Tamil Nadu can become the first team to register a hat-trick of domestic T20 titles, the tournament will also create a buzz with the introduction of an Impact Player, effectively a substitution rule that will challenge all the 38 teams.
In a full match, each team can replace a player with a reserve latest by the end of the 14th over of an innings. As a result, the possibility of a team getting to use an additional batter or a specialist sixth bowler may result in the matches being even more intense.
“It’s going to be a game-changer. The teams will need to be aware of when exactly it is to be used. It’s going to be as good as a 12-a-side contest,” Amol Muzumdar, the Mumbai head coach, told Sportstar from Rajkot.
Mumbai, just like other major teams, employed the Impact Player at various stages during its warm-up games in Ahmedabad.
M. Venkatramana, the Tamil Nadu head coach, resonated with his Mumbai counterpart.
“It is definitely going to be a thinking game and we have to keep everyone on the bench on their toes. Everyone including the support staff has to be alert and it also keeps the players who are not playing to be mentally switched on to be ready to play, if needed,” Venkatramana said from Lucknow.
The domestic T20 tournament has, over the last decade, been treated as a testing ground for the Indian Premier League (IPL). Multiple franchise scouts shortlist players from the tournament and then invite them for pre-auction trials every year.
The tournament is going to serve as a guinea-pig for the Impact Player rule that’s set to be introduced in the IPL from 2023. The Big Bash League, Australia’s franchise league, has a similar substitution rule.
Tamil Nadu, having won back-to-back titles, will be a strong contender to qualifying for the knockouts. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has managed to let the teams enjoy Diwali with their near and dear ones, scheduling the league and the knockouts on either side of the festival of lights.
Besides, the BCCI has also managed to convince its broadcasting partner to broadcast/livestream games from three different venues. Of the 126 league games, 42 can be accessed live.
- With inputs from S. Dipak Ragav
The Impact Player
- A team can substitute any of the four reserves during the game.
- The Impact Player has to be used at or before the conclusion of the 14th over of each innings.
- A player, once substituted, cannot play any further part in the game. But the replacement - the Impact Player - can bowl his full quota of overs or bat in place of a dismissed batter.
- The 38 teams are divided in five groups. All the matches of a group will be staged at multiple venues in a single city. The host venues are Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh/ Mohali, Indore and Rajkot.
- The top teams from each of the five groups will qualify directly for the quarterfinals. Six more teams will qualify for the pre-quarterfinals. The knockout stage will be played in Kolkata.
- Tamil Nadu is the only team to have won the domestic T20 championship thrice. Karnataka, Baroda and Gujarat each have won it twice.
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