Ninety-eight overs to be bowled in first four-day Test

Days will be lengthened to six and a half hours to accommodate the extra overs.

South Africa and Zimbabwe will play a four-day Test on Boxing Day (December 26).   -  AP

Ninety-eight overs, instead of the regular 90 overs, will have to be bowled on each day of the inaugural four-day Test, which will be played between Zimbabwe and South Africa. To accommodate this, the days will be lengthened to six and a half hours. This is according to the new International Cricket Council (ICC) playing conditions.

The follow-on mark will also change. A lead of 150 runs or more will, in the four-day Test, be enough to enforce the follow-on, instead of the 200-mark stipulated for the regular five-day Test. The reduced follow-on mark is in sync with the existing laws of cricket; it is already applied in the domestic and other four-day first-class matches.

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The cricket board of a country will have to determine the hours of play and duration of the sessions, with each session lasting a minimum of two hours and a maximum of two and a half hours. An extra 30 minutes would also be available to the fielding team to complete the minimum required overs on each day.

No carry-over

Beyond the half hour of overtime, remaining overs cannot be carried over to the following day unless the match has been stopped due to bad weather. Also, the last hour of play on the final day will officially commence only when 83 overs have been bowled. For a five-day Test, it is 75 overs.

Read: India unlikely to play four-day Tests in near future

If 83 overs are bowled ahead of schedule, then the calculations for the last hour will be dictated by the clock, as is the case in a five-day Test. South Africa will host its southern neighbour Zimbabwe in the inaugural four-day Test at Port Elizabeth in South Africa on December 26. This is also the first instance where the Test would be played as a day-night game.

The four-day Test was approved by the ICC as ‘trial’ in October this year.

Test cricket, the oldest format, has witnessed a steady decline in attendances in recent years. The format has come in for stiff competition from the game’s newer, shorter formats, such as Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) and domestic leagues across the globe.

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