Reserve Day for a Knockout Match

Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka hosted South Africa and Sri Lanka for the first semi-final of Wills International Cup on 30th October 1998. Damp ground delayed the start and match was reduced initially to 40 and eventually to 39 overs. South Africa scored 240/7 batting first. Rain returned during the break. Match committee reduced Sri Lankan innings to 34 overs and the first Duckworth Lewis target of 224 was set.

1999 World Cup started about 6 months later. England faced India in a must win match at Edgbaston on 29th May. India scored 232/8 on a slowish pitch. After 20.3 overs, England reached 73/3 when a downpour ensured the match could not be continued. D/L targets were used in two other matches before the World Cup and it was time to apply it for the first time in a World Cup match. But ICC had decided to make use of a reserve day. England’s target of 233 from 50 overs  was unchanged when the match continued on 30th May. Hosts were bowled out for 169 in 46th over. D/L did not come into play as the scheduled 50 over match was completed on the reserve day.

A week later, New Zealand and Zimbabwe played a Super Six game at Headingley. Zimbabwe innings was interrupted twice due to rain but overs were not reduced. New Zealand, facing a target of 176 in 50 overs, reached 70/3 in 15 overs when bad light stopped play. Reserve day was used once again. At least 25 overs had to be completed to constitute a game. No play was possible on 7th June and the match was abandoned.

Few months later, Reserve day was used in the 4th ODI between West Indies and New Zealand at Wellington. At close of Day 1, West Indies reached 43/1 in 11th over. A 50 over game was continued on the next day when New Zealand successfully chased the target of 172 from 50 overs.

ICC Champions Trophy played in September 2004 witnessed 4 rain affected games. England beat Zimbabwe on reserve day after reaching 198/5 in 38 overs on Day 1. There was no play on scheduled day between Kenya and Pakistan but a 50 over match was completed on reserve day. South Africa beat West Indies over 100 overs on 18-19 September. England v Sri Lanka was the sole exception. England reached 118/3 in 32 overs at close of play eventually reaching 251 in 50 overs. Sri Lanka reached 95/5 in 24 overs after which play was not possible. England won the match by 49 runs according to D/L method.

ICC World Cup 2007. Super Eight match between West Indies and Australia continued on reserve day. Australia scored 322/6 in 50 overs on 27th March. West Indies was bowled out for 219 on 28th March in the 46th over.

A reserve day to continue a 50 over match in a multilateral tournament. If the match still can’t be completed then a result is still possible in case the second innings has progressed sufficiently. Side finishing higher in league stage to qualify in case of a knock-out match with no result. Appears fine to me.

It does not appear fine to ICC though. In the recent first semifinal between South Africa and New Zealand, rain interrupted the charge by Proteas after 38 overs. 216/3 in 38 was projected to culminate in 324 off 50 if the momentum was maintained.

The revised playing conditions for this edition required a curtailed game to be completed on the scheduled day. The reserve day would come into play only if team batting second did not finish playing 20 overs. After the interruption, the match was reduced to 43 overs which means South Africa had 5 more overs to get as many. They added 65 runs in those 30 balls. A projection is just a projection but around 320 in 50 overs remained likely. Kiwis successfully chased the revised D/L target of 298 in 43 overs despite remaining slightly below par score until the winning six.

My earlier post proposed Wicket Adjusted Run Rate (WARR) as a simpler alternative to set revised targets.

What if West Indies had to play towards a target of 178 in 50 overs with the knowledge that only 30 overs are possible? This means that the target for the loss of 0 through 4 wickets is still 107 but it increases to 122/5, 139/6, 153/7, 163/8 or 172/9. In order to win the match by wickets, West Indies had to score the 50 over target in less than 30 overs and in that case the match would be deemed complete as a heavy victory saving more than 120 balls. To tie the match the tenth wicket falls with scores level.

By that logic, India would get a target of 224 in 47 overs for the 1992 WC match against Australia as long as it lost no more than 8 wickets else it must score 230/9. To win the match outright with wickets in hand, the target of 238 must be achieved in less than 47 overs.

It is based on the principle that 10 wickets are proportional to 50 overs. In a shorter game, team batting second will find it easier to chase a stiffer asking rate if the target is not scaled by wickets lost. In the first semi-final Kiwis scored at nearly 7 runs an over losing 6 wickets in 43 overs. It can be argued that South Africa would have defended an assumed target of 325 in 50 overs despite the lower asking rate of 6.5. The best thing about that scenario is that the goal post would not be shifted for one of the teams.

This post is not about the method to be used to decide an interrupted game. It is about playing a 100 over match. If required use the second day. WARR is mentioned because it calculates a wicket adjusted 50 over equivalent. Team batting second can’t lose too many wickets because the face fewer deliveries.

On a side note, there were too many fumbles in the semifinal. The argument is that a knockout game creates such pressure that mistakes happen. Another recent post argues that there should be only 1 knock out game – The Final! Teams progress from one stage to another based on good overall results. One bad day should not mean curtains for an otherwise consistent in-form team. If medicority is par for course at the business end of a marquee tournament then we are better off by keeping it down to just one game.


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