Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Delhi's Hrithik Shokeen became the first tactical substitute - known as "Impact Player" - in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that began across the country on Tuesday. Shokeen, an offspinner, was brought into the game at the start of the second innings, with Delhi defending 167 against Manipur in an Elite Group B fixture of the T20 competition.
Shokeen replaced opener Hiten Dalal, who had earlier contributed 47 from 27 balls after Delhi were put into bat. Eventually, Shokeen had an impact with the ball, finishing with figures of 2 for 13 in three overs as Delhi opened their campaign with a 71-run win.
Elsewhere, among other notable substitutions on the opening day, Tamil Nadu opener Hari Nishaanth replaced fast bowler T Natarajan in their game against Chhattisgarh, while Karnataka's legspinning allrounder Shreyas Gopal came in for opener Devdutt Padikkal in their tournament opener against Maharashtra.
The decision to play Nishaanth gave Tamil Nadu an extra batting option in their chase of 133 after it seemingly emerged that Natarajan, listed at No. 11 in the starting XI, was unlikely to have any further impact in the match. Nishaanth opened the batting and made 33 from 36 deliveries. However, defending champions Tamil Nadu ultimately fell short by six runs.
In Mohali, Karnataka brought in Gopal in their defence of 215 after Padikkal became this season's first centurion with a blistering 124 scored using only half the number of balls. Gopal ended up bowling three overs for figures of 1 for 15 as Karnataka won by 99 runs.
The BCCI has trialled the impact-player concept at the SMA T20s to get feedback from players and coaches. Should it receive a positive nod, this rule could be introduced in IPL 2023.
As per the rules, teams are supposed to list four substitutes along with the starting XI at the toss. One of these four players can then replace any member of the starting XI before the end of the 14th over of either innings, and will be able to bat and bowl his full allotment of overs.
There are no restrictions on the role the incoming impact player can play. For example, the impact player can replace a batter who has already been dismissed, and still get to bat as long as the team only uses 11 batters; or he could replace a bowler who has already sent down a few overs and still get to bowl his full four-over quota.
The only scenario where teams can't use an impact player is when shortened games are reduced to below ten overs per side right from the start. However, if the match begins as a full 20-over match and is then truncated with the batting side having already faced ten overs when interruption happens, both sides will be able to use the impact player regardless.