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Using the Impact Player - how have the teams gone about it so far?

K Gowtham and B Sai Sudharsan were successes, RCB didn't bother with one, while the other picks have returned mixed results

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
"I am not worried about it, I've left it to Ashu-pa [Ashish Nehra, Gujarat Titans' head coach] to figure it out. He was awake for a long time last night." That was Hardik Pandya when asked about his plans for using the Impact Player after Titans opened their IPL season with a five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings.
ICYMI - the Impact Player can be brought in at any point to replace a player from the first XI after the toss. He will usually be an Indian, unless teams start with just three foreigners, like Mumbai Indians did on Sunday.
So how have teams used this brand-new rule in their opening matches of IPL 2023?

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Royal Challengers are the only team to not use the option, mainly because Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis, their openers, made light work of the 172-target set by Mumbai. They had the option of using the Impact Player in the first innings itself, when fast bowler Reece Topley left the field for scans after injuring his shoulder in the eighth over. But they held back, seemingly because they had six other bowling options at their disposal.

Mumbai Indians

They strategically went in with just three overseas players in their starting XI, and brought in a fourth, fast bowler Jason Behrendorff, to replace Suryakumar Yadav for the defence. Behrendorff, though, was taken to the cleaners by du Plessis and Kohli in the powerplay, his three wicketless overs costing 37.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

By the time Abdul Samad replaced fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi after Sunrisers had conceded 203 to Rajasthan Royals, there was little time or opportunity for him to make an impact. He came in to bat at 48 for 5 in the tenth over and made a run-a-ball 32 not out, allowing Sunrisers to bat their 20 overs and bring down the margin of defeat, which could have been much bigger than the 72 runs they eventually lost by.

Rajasthan Royals

They were so ahead in the game against Sunrisers that they didn't really need an Impact Player. Having blasted 203, they subbed out half-centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal for fast bowler Navdeep Saini. It was largely aimed at giving Saini some bowling time with little or no pressure, given he was coming back from an injury. Saini looked undercooked and low on pace, conceding 34 in two wicketless overs.

Delhi Capitals

His big-hitting in practice games impressed head coach Ricky Ponting, so when Capitals needed to bring an Impact Player in while chasing 194 against Lucknow Super Giants, they chose Aman Khan in place of fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed, who picked up 2 for 30 in his four overs. But Aman came in to bat with Capitals tottering at 94 for 5 in the 14th over, and managed 4 off 5 balls before being bounced out by Avesh Khan.

Lucknow Super Giants

Super Giants were the only team that didn't wait for their batting innings - they batted first - to finish before making the substitution. No. 7 Ayush Badoni was subbed out immediately after being dismissed for a seven-ball 18, and K Gowtham walked out to bat as the Impact Player with just one ball left in the innings. And he hit a six. He bowled an important spell, too, his figures reading 4-0-23-0 as Super Giants won by 50 runs.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Allrounders bring value, and that's why Knight Riders retained Venkatesh Iyer ahead of the mega auction. Yet, he didn't make the starting XI, and only came in at the fall of the second wicket in their chase of 192 against Punjab Kings, replacing mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy after his frugal 1 for 26 in four overs. Iyer was far from fluent, but his stand with Andre Russell gave a struggling Knight Riders a chance, taking them to 54 needed off 28 when he fell for a 28-ball 34. Rain meant they fell slightly on DLS, losing by seven runs.

Punjab Kings

Bhanuka Rajapaksa made a 32-ball 50 to set up a strong total for Kings against Capitals, and was subbed out with seam-bowling-allrounder Rishi Dhawan. But Dhawan proved expensive, giving away 15 runs in the only over he bowled, and wasn't used again. The move was possibly because Dhawan has prolific returns as a bowler: in the latest Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, he picked up 13 wickets in seven games at an economy of 7.22 as Himachal Pradesh made the final.

Gujarat Titans

An unfortunate injury to Kane Williamson in the first half of their season opener meant Titans were forced to sub-in a pure batter for a pure batter. B Sai Sudharsan, the left-handed top-order bat, came in for Williamson after it became clear he wouldn't be fit to bat in their chase of 179 against Super Kings. He made a 17-ball 22 from No. 3 to build a solid platform set by Shubman Gill; Titans won with four balls to spare after taking the chase deep.

Chennai Super Kings

MS Dhoni is instinct-driven, and doesn't believe in match-ups, but has bought into the Impact Player rule. It was logical to replace a pure batter with a frontline bowler in their defence of 179, and Tushar Deshpande, the fast bowler, became the IPL's first Impact Player when he replaced Ambati Rayudu. Deshpande, though, proved expensive, conceding 51 in 3.2 overs. By the time he came on to defend seven off the final over, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan had turned the game Titans' way, and they needed just two balls to finish the job.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo