What is Power Play in Cricket?

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Cricket has a number of different rules, and some of these are fielding restrictions that are put in place for certain formats of the game. Unlike test cricket, which is a non powerplay overs format, there is a rule called the powerplay in cricket that is in play for limited overs cricket. This mandatory powerplay is in effect for any limited overs cricket match forces fielders to be spread out on the field to save runs.

In essence, these special fielding rules for ODI cricket and T20 cricket is what allows for teams to be scoring runs at very high rates when they’re batting in an ODI match or T20 cricket. Let’s take a closer look at the powerplay in cricket and how the powerplay rules apply to both the fielding team and bowling team as well as the batting team.

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What is a Power Play in Cricket?

A powerplay in cricket are fielding restrictions that are in place for limited overs cricket matches. It forces the fielding side to spread out their fielders on the cricket pitch, which leads to the batting side often being able to score runs at a higher pace when batting than they would in other formats.


There are different poweplay rules for the two main types of cricket that use it, and there has been quite the evolution of the ICC playing handbook as it relates to the powerplay rule and the limited overs format over the years.

How the powerplay is applied to the fielders and the overs depends on the type of cricket that is being played. Remember, fielding teams do not have to abide by the powerplay overs in a test match, as it is not a rule that is in place.

How Does a Powerplay Work?

In international cricket matches, powerplay rules will apply in both ODI cricket and T20I matches, but not for test cricket. The International Cricket Council has set the mandatory powerplay rules for each of these formats, though they have certain evolved over time.

The batting powerplay rules were set for each of the two formats, and they are fielding restrictions that are put in place to make sure there isn’t an unfair advantage in the game.

Rules of Powerplay in ODI Matches

In ODI cricket, only a maximum of two fielders is allowed outside the 30 yard circle for the first ten overs of innings. This is referred to as the first powerplay.

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Then, between the 11 and 40 overs of innings, a maximum of four fielders are allowed outside that same 30 yard circle. The final 10 overs of innings, which cover 41 through 50, state that only a maximum of five fielders are allowed outside the 30 yard circle.

In essence, there are three powerplays in ODI matches, and how many fielders outside the 30 yard circle are allowed depends on the number of overs of innings that are being played.

Rules of Powerplay in T20 Matches

The rules for powerplay overs in T20 matches are slightly different than in ODI cricket. The first six overs of innings are a mandatory powerplay. This means that a maximum of two fielders are allowed outside the 30 yard circle.

Then, starting in the seventh over of innings in T20 cricket, the field restrictions make it so that only five fielders outside the 30 yard circle are allowed. This maximum of five fielders applies for the entire match. to the bowling team and fielding team.






History of Powerplay Overs

Powerplay rules were first put in place in the 1970s. In 1980, they were first introduced to ODI cricket in Australia. The rule that was the most common at the time was that only two fielders were allowed to be outside the 30 yard circle for the first 15 overs. After that, five fielders allowed outside the circle for the rest of that match.

The International Cricket Council introduced the nomenclature of the powerplay in 2005. That’s when these fielding restrictions were essentially broken down into three blocks.

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There were the mandatory powerplay of 10 overs for the starting of the innings, then two more five overs powerplays, and the bowling team could choose the timing of each.

In games, he fielding restrictions were typically taken at the beginning of matches, meaning there was one block of 20 overs of innings of the restrictions.

Introduction of Field Restrictions in the ’80s for Mandatory Powerplay

Fielding restrictions were first put into place in the 1980s. It all started in Australia in ODI in 1980, in fact, and it determined where certain fielders could be situated for certain overs and the more wickets in the match.

Changes to the Field Restrictions in the ’90s

In the 1990s, the ICC put forth some changes to the powerplay rules. These slight changes were made so that the fielding and batting teams had a little bit of control over when the powerplays would go into effect. It was slightly different for each format of cricket, and each side had to follow them.

Powerplay Rule Changes in 2008 for Only Two Fielders

In 2008, the ICC countered the bowling powerplay being put into place in the beginning of matches. The batting team was given discretion by the ICC for when one of the two powerplays were used. This became known as the batting powerplay, and they decided when only two fielders were allowed in certain areas for the number of overs in innings.

This gave a slight advantage to batting teams. It basically separated batting and bowling powerplays and who made the decision, either the bowling team or the team batting.

Also changed was that two fielders are allowed to be in catching positions in the first few overs of a match, 15 in fact. In 2005, a few years before these major changes, that was reduced by five overs to the first 10 overs.






Powerplay Rule Changes in 2012

In 2012, further amendments were made to the batting powerplay by the ICC. The total number of blocks of powerplay were reduced from three to two in innings. Between 1992 and 2012, during non-power play overs, a total of five fielders allowed outside the circle.

Current Powerplay Rules

Current powerplay rules were amended again in 2015. The whole innings were composed of three. This removed the batting powerplay that was introduced previous. On the first powerplay, it was no longer required to have two fielders in catching positions.

What is Batting Powerplay?

A batting powerplay gave the batting team the choice as to when one of the powerplays went into effect. It gave them the choice as to when the powerplay in cricket would be in place for what overs of a match.

It dictated when three fielders could be in certain positions for the powerplay overs. This was giving a slight advantage to the batting team.






What is Bowling Powerplay?

A bowling powerplay allowed the bowling team when the powerplay overs were in effect. This allows them to decide when it would happen, and most would choose the middle overs so the fielding restrictions stacked on top of each other.

What does P1, P2 & P3 Mean?

Each of these refer to the different powerplay overs in certain formats of cricket. P1 is powerplay 1. P2 is powerplay 2. And P3 is Powerplay 3. It all refers to the five over powerplays and the first six overs of the match.

What is a 30-Yard Circle in Cricket?

The 30 yard circle is a fielding circle. It’s an imaginary circle that’s on the field. It is oval in shape, a semicircle, with a 30 yard radius from the center of each wicket. The purpose of this is to separate the infield from the outfield in a cricket match.

It is where the fielding restrictions are applied to the formats of cricket that are described above that use five over powerplays, death overs and other overs on the leg side of the field.


The powerplay in cricket was essentially restrictions on fielding teams that were put in place for T20I and ODI cricket. It is what ultimately has led to some of the higher scores in these formats. Based on which format you’re playing, the rules apply differently. There are also different rules depending on which overs you’re in during the match as well.

Last Updated on 26/12/2022 ago by Devak Mukherjee

Devak Mukherjee

I have explained in this article what power play is in cricket and how the rules apply to both the fielding and bowling teams. After reading all the important, you might want to proceed to placing your bet on cricket matches. Check out our recommended betting sites here and take advantage of the generous offer for Indian bettors.

Devak Mukherjee has a masters degree in statistics and economics. Over the last couple of years he has specialized in sports betting and passionately teaches punters how to improve their odds with proven betting strategies.

Devak Mukherjee