The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has advanced the timings of the day-night one-day matches to be played over the next one month. Instead of the regular 2.30 pm start, the day-nighters will begin at 12 noon. India are scheduled to play three ODIs against Pakistan in December-January followed by five 50-50 games against England.
The raison d’etre, apparently, is to eliminate the dew factor. Given that it’s winter, dew comes into play in the second half of the game and the BCCI’s explanation is that an early start would save the ball from getting wet. Whether the BCCI’s broadcast partners have agreed to the new timing is not known but the early starts are set to have an impact on revenue.
New Delhi, which hosts the third ODI against Pakistan on January 6 and Dharamsala, which holds the fifth and final ODI against England on January 27, had made a request for early starts. The board also received similar requests from Kolkata, where the second ODI will be played against Pakistan and Chandigarh, scheduled to hold the fourth ODI against England on January 23. Keeping the weather factor in mind, the BCCI has decided to start all day-night games at 12 noon.
“We’ve made the timings uniform for the season,” a BCCI official said. It means Rajkot (first ODI vs England), Kochi (second ODI vs England) and Ranchi (third ODI vs England) will also have 12 noon starts. Chennai is scheduled to host a day game against Pakistan on December 30. However, the two Twenty20 games against England, to be played in Pune on Thursday and in Mumbai on Saturday, will start at 7 pm.
The inevitable fallout of the decision will be on the television ratings. Experts say a 12 noon start means the matches will end at 8 pm and hence miss out on the ‘prime time’ slot which is from 8 to 10 pm. ESPN Star, the broadcasters, could not be reached for comment but an official of a TV station said the revised timings will have a bearing on the revenue from commercials, particularly for the England series. “The Pakistan series may not get affected because of the intensity of the contests between the counties but the England series will have an adverse impact on the commercials,” said the official.