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Four, not five fielders allowed outside inner circle for slow over rate in T20Is

It will be implemented if the fielding team fails to start the final over within the stipulated innings' time

Nagraj Gollapudi
Slow over rates will cost teams at the death in T20Is in the future  •  Harry Trump/Getty Images

Slow over rates will cost teams at the death in T20Is in the future  •  Harry Trump/Getty Images

In its latest attempt to tackle slow over rates, the ICC has put in place an "in-match penalty" in T20Is designed to hit the fielding team where it could really hurt. ESPNcricinfo breaks down the new ruling.
What is the new rule?
If the fielding team fails to start the final over by the stipulated time for it to start, they will be docked one fielder from outside the 30-yard circle. So for the remainder of the innings, they will be allowed four, instead of five, fielders outside the 30-yard circle. The rule change applies to both men's and women's T20Is. According to the new rule, which was made public by the ICC on Friday, the fielding team needs to "be in position to bowl the first ball of the final over of the innings by the scheduled [or rescheduled in case of an unavoidable delay] cessation time for the innings".
How slow is the new slow over-rate?
Until now each team had 85 minutes to complete 20 overs. In the ICC's new playing conditions for T20Is, the fielding team needs to start the 20th over by the 85th minute. Match officials will tell both the fielding team and the batters the stipulated end time at the start of each innings. Any time lost due to injuries, DRS reviews, the ball being lost or any unforeseen incident that slows the game, will affect the end time which will be reworked.
"In delayed or interrupted matches where there has been a reduction of 3 or more overs the fielding side shall be in position to bowl the first ball of the penultimate over of the innings by the scheduled (or re-scheduled) cessation time for the innings," the ICC said.
Who keeps a tab on the time?
The third umpire, through a timer. In case of any stoppages, the third umpire will rework the end time and let on-field officials know.
When does the new rule kick in?
It will be implemented for the first time in the men's game during the one-off T20I between West Indies and Ireland on January 16.
Hasn't this been tried before?
It has. The ICC has essentially adopted an idea that the ECB brought in across its white-ball tournaments last year.
With the ICC now following suit, it won't be a surprise if bigger T20 leagues like the IPL include the ruling into its playing conditions. Last season, in a bid to battle tardy rates, the IPL brought in a new rule which made it mandatory for teams to finish the 20 overs in uninterrupted matches within a set number of minutes (85 minutes of match play and 5 minutes of two strategic timeouts per innings). Before that the over-rate clock stopped at the start of the 20th over, which meant teams could not be penalised even if they went well over the limit by taking more time through the final over - as long as it had started on time.
How might this impact teams?
The final overs of any T20 innings are acknowledged as a significant segment of play. Losing a boundary fielder at that stage thus becomes potentially critical for the fielding side. It's not outlandish to think that it could, in some cases, become the difference between winning and losing - which could hurt teams more than simple monetary fines.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo