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Negative Impact Sub: IPL rule that stands between India and T20 World Cup trophy

Negative Impact Sub: IPL rule that stands between India and T20 World Cup trophy

With next Hardik Pandya not in sight, many believe BCCI is killing the hopes of finding one with IPL Impact sub and without a seam-bowling all-rounder, winning a T20 World Cup trophy again could be just a dream.

Impact Player rule might be popular among franchises for the flexibility it gives teams in IPL but it has already made a negative impact. The reason? IPL Impact Sub diminishes the importance of an all-rounder, something that the India Cricket Team needs badly to land a T20 World Cup trophy. Currently, Team India have no alternative to Hardik Pandya, the only proper seam-bowling all-rounder. Australia, England and West Indies have plenty of them in their Playing XI.

However, for India, it always comes down to 5 batters, 1 wicketkeeper, 4 bowlers and Hardik Pandya. The Mumbai Indians captain gives India side the balance it requires. And in his absence, things have gone horribly wrong. But where is the next Hardik Pandya? Blame the IPL Impact Player Rule for not finding one.

Even Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain, has critised the “entertaining” initiative.

“I am not big fan of impact sub rule. It is going to hold all-rounders back, guys like Dube & Sundar aren’t getting to bowl which is not a good thing for us – it is entertaining as there are 12 players, giving lots of options,” Rohit Sharma said on Club Prairie Fire YouTube podcast.

What is Impact Player rule in IPL?

Introduced in 2023, IPL’s Impact Player rule lets teams name 5 subs before the toss. During the match, captains can pick one sub as the Impact Player to strategically replace a starter at breaks (wicket fall, innings breaks).

This tactical twist allows for a pinch hitter to boost batting, a fresh bowler to replace an injured teammate, or a specialist to counter the opposition’s plan. Each team can only use this substitution once per match.

Take Jos Buttler for an example during KKR vs RR IPL 2024 clash. Buttler smashed a match-winning 60-ball 107. But had the rule not been in place, Buttler might not have had the same impact. Punjab Kings’s Shashank Singh or Ashutosh Sharma have also been excellent impact subs in IPL 2024.

Why is it a problem?

All-rounders have been the most valued players not only in IPL but also in international white-ball cricket. Ben Stokes, for example, powered England to two World Cups. Mitchell Marsh, Andre Russell and Keiron Pollard were the backbones of their teams. Back home, Hardik Pandya proved to be the most crucial cog in Gujarat Titans with the ball in hand and also the bat in hand.

But the Impact Player rule negates the effect altogether. A team can bring in a batter in place of a bowler during a chase or remove a batter for a bowler as per conditions while defending a total. In that case, a team does not need to rely on an all-rounder. It gives teams flexibility while reducing dependence on an all-rounder. Chennai Super Kings have used an all-rounder Shivam Dube only as an Impact Sub. Washington Sundar, another all-rounder, is also an Impact sub for Sunrisers Hyderabad, limiting their potentials.

Australia’s World Cup-winning captain Aaron Finch did not mince his words. He called the Impact Sub rule as a cover-up for mistakes at the auction table.

“I think the sub takes away the strategy needed by a captain to manage his resources. The sub covers up big mistakes at the auction table,” Aaron Finch tweeted.

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How is it killing India’s hopes?

Hardik Pandya was celebrated as the next Kapil Dev. While he might not have had the same impact due to injuries, no doubt, India need that all-rounder in international cricket.

The fact that India had no seam-bowling all-rounder in the 2021 T20 World Cup meant they made a group-stage exit. The champions of the last three T20 World Cup editions had more than 3 seam-bowling all-rounders in their line-ups.

West Indies had as many as 6 in their 2016 squad. Australia had 4 in 2021 while England had as many in 2022. India had just 1 in Hardik Pandya.

But with Venkatesh Iyer not making the cut, India have had a dearth of such seam-bowling all-rounders. And the IPL Impact Sub rule does not help the matter either.

“The ‘Impact Player’ rule, which is essentially a glorified ’12-a-side’ cricket contest, has had a positive impact on IPL viewership but a negative effect on Indian cricket. It has eradicated the concept of an all-rounder, leading to a situation where even a ‘half-fit Hardik Pandya’ holds significant value due to his ability to bowl,” a former international player who is currently a broadcaster told PTI.

To put it bluntly, BCCI can experiment all it can but if it is not in sync with ICC, it won’t benefit India Cricket Team. In fact, a new rule can be detrimental to the team’s success.

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