What Is a Super Over?
Back in 2003 when T20 cricket was first played, nobody knew what to expect from it. It was not like a Test match or a One-Day International. It came to be known as the slam-bang version of the game. And this slam-bang version of the game had slightly different rules. Unlike in Test cricket or ODI games, no-balls were turned into free hits with the batsman not being out (unless it is a run out) on the free-hit ball. A tie was considered a tie but like in football, there was a tie-breaker to decide the winner. In the initial years, international cricket introduced the ‘bowl out’.
In 2006, New Zealand and the West Indies played the first bowl out after their match was tied. India and Pakistan famously squared off in a bowl out which was a part of the 2007 World T20. Canada and Zimbabwe played out the last bowl out in international cricket back in October 2008.
However, the bowl out rule was scrapped and a Super Over was introduced instead. So, what is this Super Over and what are its rules? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out.
What Is a Super Over?
Also called a one-over eliminator, a Super Over is a one-over face-off between two teams who previously played out a tie. A Super Over can be played in a T20 game or a 50-over game as well. Typically, if a 50-over match is tied, it remains a tie. However, in the recent past, if knockouts of 50-over games end in a tie, a Super Over is played. For T20s, irrespective of which stage it is, the Super Over will be played if the game ends in a tie.
In the Super Over, both teams play out one over each. There is no toss and it is the team that was chasing (batting second) in the tied match gets to bat first. Both teams nominate three batters each for the Super Over along with one bowler to bowl that one over. If a team loses two wickets in the Super Over, then they are all out and cannot continue their batting innings in that Super Over. The team that scores the most runs wins the game irrespective of the number of wickets they lose.
Like in football, the penalties are not added to the goal tallies of the players, the runs scored, wickets and catches taken are not added to the stats of the players. They are separate altogether and are not taken into account.
It was back in 2008 that the Super Over first came into effect. New Zealand and the West Indies first played a Super Over in December 2008. And it was the West Indies who came out victorious. They had scored 25 in their Super Over before New Zealand replied with 15. Since then, Super Over has become a regular feature when a T20 is tied.
What Happens if There Is a Tie in a Super Over?
In fact, this is an interesting question. Before October 2019, if the Super Over ended in a tie, the winner was decided by the number of boundaries scored throughout the match excluding the Super Over or including the Super Over. If that was the same, then a countback was conducted from the last ball of the Super Over. If the Duckworth-Lewis (D/L method) was used in the normal game, then the tied Super Over is decided by the countback rule.
After the 2019 World Cup final ended in a tie with the Super Over also ending in a tie, England won on the boundary count. However, the ICC received a lot of criticism concerning the rule. Hence, in October 2019, the ICC tweaked it. If the Super Over ends in a tie during the group stages of a tournament, then the match is declared as a tie. However, in knockout matches, the case is different. If the Super Over is tied in a knockout game, then there will be another Super Over and there will be repeated Super Overs until the winner is decided.
How Many Super Overs Have Been Played in International Cricket So Far?
There had been three international matches that ended in a tie before the Super Over was introduced and all of those results were determined by a bowl out. Since the introduction of the Super Over, as many as 16 international matches have gone into the Super Over. The biggest number of Super Overs have been played in New Zealand. Only one ODI game featured the Super Over and that was the 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand. Only one women’s T20I has featured the Super Over and that was earlier this year between Australia and England.
In men’s T20Is, New Zealand have played the most number of Super Overs – seven. However, they have lost six of them. India, the West Indies and Qatar have had the most number of wins in Super Overs – two each. Only two out of the 14 men’s T20I Super Overs have been played in the T20 World Cups. 2019 was the year with the most Super Overs – as many as six Super Overs were played last year. New Zealand and India played back-to-back Super Overs earlier this year and those were the last set of Super Overs in men’s international cricket so far.
The bowl out was a hit and miss and largely depended on luck if the bowlers hit the stumps. However, the introduction of the Super Over has brought all three skills – batting, bowling and fielding – into play during the Super Over. Even though it is one over, it is cricket and all three departments decide the fate of the game. Also, the ICC’s latest tweak in the rule in cases of tied Super Overs has also been a welcome change. Boundary count or countback rule should not decide the winner and it needs to be the bat, ball and fielding to determine the result.
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