The Indian Premier League (IPL), has since its commencement in 2008, changed the outlook of T20 cricket around the world. One of the critical features of the IPL right from the first season has been the involvement of foreign nationals in the respective franchises. As much as the IPL is a platform for the local Indian talent, the overseas players also see it as a stage where they could reach a much bigger audience.
Right from the inaugural edition, a number of overseas players register themselves for the IPL auction year after year. They have been a key component in the success of the league. Be it Brendon McCullum who lit up the IPL with a 158* in the first match against RCB, or Chris Gayle, whose 175* remains the highest-ever T20 score, foreign nationals have left an indelible mark on the tournament.
However, as the IPL is a tournament that caters to the Indian players, the BCCI has kept a limit on the number of foreign players that each team can field. As per the rules laid down by the BCCI, a maximum of only 4 overseas players are allowed in an IPL team. This number has been decided by the IPL governing council and been in play since the first season of the Indian Premier League.
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Squad and Team formation
According to the IPL committee rules, each franchise can have 25 players in their squad, out of which a maximum of 8 can be foreign players. With such a small margin, teams often go for quality overseas players in their group. However, most of the time, many overseas players end up warming the bench every season.
If we talk about playing XI for an IPL match, each team can have a maximum of 4 overseas players in the mix. The rest 7 players making the playing XI will have to be local picks.
A team cannot have more than four foreign players on the field at any time during an IPL match. In case one of the overseas players need to be substituted, only another overseas player can replace him on the field. A maximum of 4 substitute fielders is allowed at a time.
Can teams play with less than 4 overseas players?
The answer to this question is yes. While it is a rare occurrence, there have been times sides have played an IPL match with less than 4 foreign players. The first instance was in the inaugural season when Rajasthan Royals went with only three overseas players against Kings XI Punjab. Mumbai Indians, in 2010, fielded only three foreign players in their side in a game versus Rajasthan. Kolkata Knight Riders went a step further in 2011 when they fielded just 2 foreign players against Chennai Super Kings.
Have more than 4 overseas players ever been allowed in an IPL game?
No! In the 13 years of IPL’s existence, more than 4 foreign players have never been allowed in an IPL game. However, in the Champions League T20 in 2011, Mumbai Indians were allowed to field 5 overseas players due to injuries to plenty of their Indian players. Rohit Sharma currently leads the Mumbai Indians unit.
What is the current verdict on more than 4 overseas players in IPL?
While franchises are more than happy to field only 4 foreign players in their teams for now, there have been murmurs that franchise bosses want this rule to be tweaked. There were also talks that post IPL 2021, there might be 10 teams involved in the tournament. A BCCI official went on record to a website stating that an added overseas player will balance the teams more. However, this will also add to the players who are warming the benches rather than playing competitive cricket elsewhere.
The mega auction will be held next year and if the IPL does end up becoming a 10-team tournament, there is every chance we might see an extra overseas player allowed by the BCCI. How the cricket fans see this move, if it happens, remains to be seen.
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