What is a Super Over in Cricket?

Limited overs cricket matches would occasionally end in a tie. This was a legitimate outcome and would usually lead to a share of points in a domestic competition. In a bi-lateral series, the result would be considered as a draw.

In the modern day, the game demands a more positive result and that’s why a super over has been introduced. Fans want to see a winner and that’s exactly what the Super Over looks to determine.

What is a Super Over in Cricket?

A Super Over is kept in reserve in the event of a cricket match finishing with scores level. If both sides finish with the exact same total at the end of the game, the super over will now come into play. This phenomenon is more commonly seen in T20 cricket but it has been famously used in the 50 Over form of the game too.

A Super Over consists of six balls and just one bowler from the fielding team is to deliver it. The regular laws of the game apply at this stage so any wides and no balls will see one run added to the batting team’s score and the bowler must deliver that ball again.

In the batting side, three batsmen are nominated to receive the Super Over. Two batters walk to the crease at the start and the third is in reserve in case a wicket falls. If the bowler claims two wickets during the over, the ‘innings’ comes to an end and the Super Over is deemed to be complete.

Super Over in Cricket image

At the end of the over, there is a change of innings: The fielding side becomes the batting side and vice versa. Another six balls will then be delivered.

The objective here is a simple one: At the end of those two supplementary overs, the side with the highest score is declared the winner of the match.

It’s an easy and exciting way in which to decide a game of cricket but, if those scores are still level after the two super overs, things could start to get a little more complicated.

Rule Twists

In the event of a tie at the end of a Super Over sequence, different methods have been used in order to identify the match winner. In many cases, the Super Over has been repeated with a view to finding a higher scoring team second time around.

In the 50 Over World Cup final between England and New Zealand in 2019, a boundary countback was used. England had hit more boundaries during the regulation 50 over match so they were crowned as world champions. Other games have used the boundary countback but they have also used any boundaries scored during the super over.

It’s a law that needs to be clearer but, irrespective of that, the introduction of super overs has certainly given us some thrilling cricket.

The Most Famous Super Over of All Time

The 2019 50-Over World Cup final between England and New Zealand may have ended in controversial fashion but it’s definitely provided us with the most famous Super Over ever. At the end of the game, the scores were tied with both teams scoring 241.

In the Super Over, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler came out to bat for England while Trent Boult was nominated as New Zealand’s bowler. England scored 15 from their six balls without losing a wicket.

In reply, Martin Guptill and James Neesham were New Zealand’s nominated batsman and, after five deliveries, they had scored 14 runs. Needing two runs from Jofra Archer’s final ball, Guptill was run out going for a second and the scores were subsequently tied. Boundary countback was then used to determine that England had won the match.

This was the first Super Over in men’s 50 Over cricket and, to date, there has been just one other. In November 2020, Pakistan and Zimbabwe played out a Super Over in their ODI series. Pakistan lost their two wickets for just two runs and Zimbabwe made the three runs required to win without losing a wicket.

The First International Super Over

The very first super over in international cricket was used in the 2008 T20 series between West Indies and New Zealand. With the scores level after the initial game, the Windies won the contest by scoring 25 from their supplementary six balls. New Zealand could only make 15/2 in reply as history was made.

Chris Gayle scored all of West Indies 25 runs in the Super Over and New Zealand’s supplementary innings ended when they lost both of their wickets after the first five balls. Ties are more common in T20 cricket and we’ve seen far more Super Overs in the shorter form of the game.

By the end of 2020, 14 Super Overs had been used in men’s T20is.

The women’s game employs Super Overs too and, at the same point in time, there had been just one Super Over in women’s T20 internationals.

Double Super Over at the IPL

The 2019 ODI World Cup Final will never be forgotten but tied Super Overs are rare. The Indian Premier League is the biggest T20 franchise competition in world cricket but there has only been one case of a tied Super Over to date.

Using a more conventional rule, the game between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders needed a double super over to decide the winner. At the end of the regulation 40 overs, both sides had made 176 so the initial super over was set in motion.

Jasprit Bumrah was the designated bowler for Mumbai and Kings XI lost both their wickets in making just five runs. In reply, Punjab’s bowler Mohammed Shami claimed just one wicket but Mumbai could only score five runs themselves.

Rules stated that the batsmen who had been dismissed in the initial Super Over could not bat in the second. In addition, both Bumrah and Shami were ineligible as bowlers for the next set of 12 balls. Mumbai Indians batted first and made 11/1 while Kings XI Punjab eventually won by scoring 15 from just four deliveries.

Another Memorable IPL Super Over

The very first super over in IPL history happened in the second edition of the competition in 2009. Rajasthan Royals took on the Kolkata Knight Riders in Cape Town with both sides making 150 in their 20 overs.

In the Super Over, KKR made a respectable 15 but the Royals chased down the target with two balls to spare. It wasn’t the most remarkable contest but, as the first Super Over in a major T20 competition, it’s worthy of mention.

Conclusion

Super Overs are a welcome addition to the game of cricket and they’ve certainly added even more excitement to limited overs matches. Moving forward, the game’s governing bodies should be looking to implement a strict set of rules in order to avoid the type of confusion that we saw at the end of the 2019 World Cup final.

It seems that cricket fans would prefer to see the Super Over repeated in the event of a tie at the end of the first 12 balls. This is the fairest way to decide a contest and, while the players may be drained at this point, it’s inconceivable that ties will continue indefinitely.

It’s also important to clarify the rules that apply in the event of a match going to a second Super Over. As we saw in the game between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab, any batsman who was dismissed in the initial Super Over could not take part in the second. Similarly, the two opening bowlers could not be involved in the second phase.

Super Overs remain relatively rare but they are becoming an increasingly popular addition to the game of cricket. As the number of limited overs formats are keep rising, it’s important to have a defined set of rules so that fans and players know exactly what to expect if a Super Over is required.