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ODI Cricket Explained: History, rules and format

Once the pinnacle of limited overs cricket, ODIs has recently been overshadowed by the younger T20 format but remains a key feature in the sport's calendar.

The clue is in the name as One Day Internationals take place over the course of a day's play, with both teams scheduled to bowl 50 overs.

Scheduled to take place once every four years, the 50-over Cricket World Cup is the pinnacle of the ODI format and remains the showpiece ICC prize.

How long is an ODI match? 

With two teams bowling 50 overs each, a One Day International is scheduled to be played over the course of the day, with most matches lasting roughly seven hours.

Both teams play one inning, so one team bats first while the other fields. Once both teams have had the chance to bat, the team with the highest run total wins.

ODI rules

Like the Test and T20 format, ODI cricket is played between two teams of 11 players.

Captains will decide which team bats first by a coin toss and both teams play one inning of 50 overs. The batting team will looking to accumulate as many runs and set a target score, which the opposition team have to beat to win the match.

One inning lasts until all of the batting players are out (10) or the batting team run out of overs.

A key rule for the fielding team is that one bowler is allocated a maximum of 10 overs to bowl, which means teams often have five competent bowlers to form their attack.

Once both teams have batted, the team with the highest score wins the match.

There are also three levels of fielding restrictions to be considered, which are known as Powerplays.

Powerplay 1 (Overs 1-10)

For the first 10 overs of both innings, the fielding team may have up to two fielders outside the 30 yard circle.

Dubbed the mandatory powerplay, this encourages attacking fielding.

Powerplay 2 (Overs 11-40)

Between overs 11 to 40, a maximum four fielders are allowed to be positioned outside the 30-yard cricle.

Powerplay 3 (Overs 41-50)

During the final 10 overs, teams are permitted to put five fielders outside the 30-yard circle.

Who can play ODI matches?

Countries wishing to participate in an ODI must be approved by the ICC; full ICC member country national teams have permanent ODI status, while temporary and special statuses can be provided to non-members.

The full list of teams are below:

Permanent ODI status

  • England
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • West Indies
  • India
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe
  • Bangladesh
  • Afghanistan
  • Ireland

Temporary ODI status

  • Scotland
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Namibia
  • Oman
  • Papua New Guinea
  • United States

ODI scoring

The ODI format has the same scoring system in place as Test and Twenty20.

To score a run requires the batter to strike the ball and run to the opposite end of the pitch while their batting partner runs in the other direction.

It is also possible to score runs without running the length of the pitch; if a batter hits the ball past the boundary line they score four runs, or if they hit it over the line without bouncing they score six runs.

ODI history

The first One Day International (ODI) was played between old foes England and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in January 1971, though it was something of an accident after their initial Test match was cancelled following three days of rain.

The idea of a one-day format was then conceived by the International Cricket Committee (ICC) in response to complaints of Test matches going on for too long.

It was initially played in white-coloured kits with a red-coloured ball, like Test cricket.

In 1975, the inaugural World Cup was contested in England with a series of one-day matches. Both teams would bowl 60 overs each and it wasn't until 1987 that the number of overs was reduced to its current figure, 50.

A World Series Cricket tournament was formed in 1977 to rival mainstream cricket and played a key role in the development of the ODI format.

Big-name players from all over the world participated, coloured uniforms were introduced and matches were played under the lights for the first time. The ball was changed from red to white and matches were broadcast with a variety of camera angles and microphones on players for greater insight on the action.

The ICC established that a World Cup would be played every four years and after the first three tournaments were hosted by England, India and Pakistan shared hosting duties for the 1987 edition.

Australia are the most successful nation in the format, having won the Cricket World Cup on six occasions, with their most recent triumph coming in 2023.

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