What Is The Difference Between T20 & ODI Cricket?

Cricket has undergone massive changes since the sport was created over a hundred years ago. The most traditional forms of cricket (test and first class cricket) are long, but still prove to be extremely popular. However, as time has gone on, shorter formats of the game have emerged in order to try to increase the global reach of the game. It was also hoped that these shorter formats would make cricket a little more fast-paced and increase the commercial success of the sport.

These new types of cricket mean that people who are just getting introduced to the sport are immediately confronted with terms like ‘T20 cricket’ and ‘ODI cricket’ – and this can lead to a lot of confusion! What do both terms mean? What are the differences between the two formats? Those are the questions I’ll be answering for you in this post today! Let’s get into it…

What is the difference between T20 & ODI cricket?

The main difference between T20 & ODI cricket is the length of time each game lasts. An innings in T20 cricket lasts a maximum of 20 overs, whilst an ODI innings can last a maximum of 50 overs. Additionally, bowlers can bowl a maximum of 10 overs in ODI cricket, but only a maximum of 4 overs in T20 matches.

Differences In Scoring Rates

Batters will also usually play more aggressively in a T20 match compared to an ODI. This is because T20 matches are much shorter and there are only 20 overs (120 balls) in which each team can score runs. Batters know that they can play in a very attacking manner from the beginning of their innings without putting their team at risk, because it is relatively difficult to bowl a team out in 20 overs (barring a batting collapse). Because ODI matches have longer innings’ (50 overs/300 balls), there is more risk that a batting side will be bowled out during the course of those overs. Therefore, a batter must generally protect their wicket a little more and play a tad more defensively during an ODI match than a T20 match. This is why it’s incredibly common to see teams score at 8 or 9 runs per over in a T20 innings, but a team scoring at 8 or 9 runs per over in an ODI represents the very upper limit of scoring rates!

Players like Moeen Ali excel in both T20 and ODI cricket as they are naturally attacking players that are also capable of building a long innings when necessary

The highest score in a T20 match between two international sides at the time of writing was the 278 runs scored by Afghanistan against Ireland in 2019. These runs were scored at a whopping 13.9 runs per over. If a team were to score at that same rate in an ODI, their team would end up scoring 695 runs, which is way above the current highest ODI score of 498 that was hit by England against the Netherlands in 2022. Those 498 runs were hit at 9.96 runs per over – which gives you an indication of the possible differences in scoring rates between the two formats.

Differences In Powerplays

If you’ve been watching the short formats of cricket for a while then you’ll have probably heard the word ‘powerplay’ get mentioned at some point. A powerplay is a specific period during a limited overs match in which the fielding rules are changed. These changes allow more/less fielders to patrol certain parts of the field, which can make it harder/easier for batting teams to score runs. For example, in most limited overs matches, only 2 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle during the first powerplay. This effectively means that only 2 fielders are allowed to patrol the boundary! This is why the opening powerplay represents such a huge opportunity for batters in both T20 and ODI cricket. If they play well, it allows them to get much more value for their shots as there are less fielders in place to stop their shots going for boundaries.

An example of a set of field placements during the first powerplay in a T20/ODI match. Only two players are outside the 30-yard circle (shown in the lightest shade of green)

Powerplays are another significant area where you will see differences between T20 and ODI cricket. Between the two formats there are different numbers of powerplays, with different durations and different rules. The table below should explain the differences!

Powerplay 1Powerplay 2Powerplay 3
T20Powerplay 1 lasts for the first 6 overs of the innings. Only 2 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circleThere is no powerplay 2 in T20 cricket.There is no powerplay 3 in T20 cricket.
ODI Powerplay 1 lasts for the first 10 overs of the innings. Only 2 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circlePowerplay 2 lasts between the 11th over to the 40th over. In this period 4 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circlePowerplay 3 lasts for the final 10 overs of the innings. In this period 5 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle
This table summarises the powerplay differences between T20 and ODI’s

If you’d like to read more about fielding restrictions in T20 cricket – check out my post on that by clicking here!

Are There Differences Between The Balls Used In T20 & ODI Cricket?

No, the cricket balls used in both T20 and ODI cricket at the professional level are the same types of balls. They are white in colour, which means that they are more visible to batters when playing under floodlights and also that they are more visible against the coloured clothing that both teams are wearing in these types of games.

The white cricket balls used in T20/ODI cricket also tend to swing much less than the red balls used in test matches. Some people think this is due to the seam being less pronounced, and also because it seems to be harder to maintain a shine on the white ball, but the exact reasons are not 100% known!

What Is The Difference Between T20 & T20I Cricket?

A ‘T20’ match is a cricket match between two domestic/franchise teams (for example, Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings) that both have one 20-over long innings in which they can score runs. A ‘T20I’ match is a cricket match between two international teams (for example, New Zealand vs Australia) that also both have one 20-over long innings in which they can score runs. So, the matches are exactly the same, except the ‘I’ in ‘T20I’ is used to show that the game is being played by two international teams.

‘ODI’ stands for ‘One Day International’, and therefore the title of this post should probably be comparing ODI & T20I matches! However, the ‘T20I’ title is not widely used amongst the viewing public, and as such I chose to use the word T20 in the title!


I love watching both ODI and T20 cricket. In both of these types of cricket the objective of the game is exactly the same; score more runs than your opponent over the course of one innings, and you will win the match. This is a very simple concept for newcomers to understand and makes T20 and ODI cricket much more accessible to the casual viewer than a test match which has more complex rules.

I hope this post has helped you understand the main differences between ODI’s and T20’s! If you’ve got more cricketing questions that you desperately want the answers to, have a look at my general cricket questions page by clicking the link at the top of the site. I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you if you head across there!

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