The IPL management has laid down the guidelines for when teams can use their two-and-a-half minute strategic time-out in 2010: the bowling side can ask for the break between the sixth and eighth overs while the batting team can opt for the same anywhere between overs 11 to 16.
The mid-innings strategic time-out, which came in for widespread criticism after it was introduced in the 2009 season, had been reduced from seven-and-a-half minutes per side for the third season.
Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, admitted that the league was forced to review the duration of the timeout after important players including Sachin Tendulkar had disapproved of the long break because it hampered a team's momentum.
"That was a trial process," Modi said. "Now we have changed it to total of five minutes split into two-and-a-half minutes for each time. The bowling team can take it from overs six to eight while we have noticed that the batting team always need to discuss with their team-mates at the end stages, so they can opt for the timeout between overs 11-16."
While introducing the tactical time-out, Modi stated its purpose was allow teams to discuss strategies instead of having to spend time on it during the course of the game, and hence minimise match-time delays. Critics disagreed instantly, saying it was nothing but another channel for the league to make more money.
But the franchises, some of whom had originally not accepted the interruption openly, now say the timeout is necessary from the both the cricketing and the financial perspective. "[The] strategy break is good because you need to get more revenues in it," one of the franchise officals said. "Ultimately the entertainment part is great but within a short break you have to get the revenues otherwise the IPL can't survive."
Even if teams agree the timeout is beneficial, some are still trying to come to grips with it. "You cannot do much in such a short time. You cannot reinvent a wheel," said TA Sekar, director of cricket for Mumbai Indians, who was with earlier with Delhi Daredevils for the first two years of the IPL. "Invariably each time there was a break players lost concentration. It is quite an innovative thing they are trying, it may help, it may not."
But Sekar admitted breaks were important in the Twenty20 due to the rapid manner in which changes occur. "Twenty20 is a game where execution of your plan is very, very important because you don't have the time to comeback," he said. "So [the] strategy break may be helpful because somebody inside [the dug-out] might see something happening which the players inside may not see."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo