Rohit Sharma in favour of early starts at 2023 World Cup

India captain backs Ashwin's suggestion to reduce the impact of dew on day-night ODIs

Deivarayan Muthu
Rohit Sharma is in favour of early starts at the ODI World Cup in India to reduce the impact of the dew factor and promote more even contests.
Day-night ODIs in India start at 1.30pm and finish around 9pm, which is prime time on television, leading to greater viewership numbers for the BCCI and the broadcasters. Rohit, however, said that this gave the chasing team a significant advantage if there's dew, because they get to bowl in dry conditions in the afternoon and bat when the dew gets the ball wet in the evening, making it easier to score.
"I mean, it [having an early start] is a good idea because it's a World Cup, right?," Rohit said on the eve of the ODI series opener against New Zealand in Hyderabad. "You don't want to compromise too much on the toss factor and you want to take that [advantage] completely away. I like that idea of an early start, but I don't know if it's possible.
"The broadcasters will decide what time the game should start [laughs]. But ideally you don't want that sort of advantage in the game. You want to see good cricket being played without one side having the advantage of batting under lights with the dew. But those are the things that are not in your control. But I like the idea of an early start."
During the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Guwahati, India were wary of the dew factor and showed greater intent while batting first to rack up a potentially dew-proof total of 373.
After that game, India offspinner R Ashwin had suggested an earlier start time, arguing that a 11.30am start to World Cup matches wouldn't necessarily hurt viewership figures because of what's at stake.
"The quality difference between the teams isn't coming through," Ashwin said. "Dew is narrowing that gap if you happen to lose the toss. My suggestion - or rather my opinion - for the World Cup is to look at what venues we are playing in, and at what times. Why shouldn't we start matches at 11.30am during the World Cup? Won't all cricket fans prioritise the World Cup and watch matches at 11.30?"
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad is known to favour teams that chase because of both dew and a fast outfield. There wasn't much dew on Tuesday evening, though, as India's players went through their drills on the main ground and had a net session at an adjacent facility around 6pm. Still, the dew remained a talking point, even among the visitors with New Zealand captain Tom Latham saying that it was a problem not just in India but all over the world.
"I haven't given a huge amount of thought to the change of match timings, but I think you see around the world at night time in different conditions where the ball does dew up or the ground does dew up," Latham said. "And sometimes it can get hard to hold onto the ball and it does get a little bit slippery, but that's something we're presented with in international cricket where you've got to be able to be flexible to bowl with the wet ball or field in those conditions. You got to ride with whatever conditions you're faced with and that's adapting to the conditions as best as possible."

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo