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It is 6 March, and India are playing the West Indies at the Waca ground in Perth, Australia. The sunny city sees the mercury soar to 42 degrees Celsius at that time of the year. Chris Gayle is in one of those moods, and the ball is disappearing to all parts of the ground. Captain Dhoni chucks the ball in the direction of fast bowler Umesh Yadav, hoping for a breakthrough.

Several unquantifiable factors can contribute to Yadav finding that extra yard of pace to flummox the batsman. Smartwear attempts to tap some of these—for instance, lightweight material that sits easily and regulates body temperature, preventing tiredness from creeping in, can provide that extra 1% to improve on-field performance.

At the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 starting Saturday, the Indian cricket team will wear a kit developed by Nike.

Every kit (jersey and pants) is made from 33 plastic bottles. Rachel Goldner, senior product line manager at Nike, says their aim is to minimize the impact on the environment while providing “superior innovations" for athletes. “The kit," she says, “is made out of 100% recycled polyester. An average of 15 recycled plastic bottles are used to create the jersey and an average of 18 recycled plastic bottles to create the pants."

Bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET or rPET) can be “recycled" to reduce the amount of slow-degrading waste going into landfills—Nike refused to comment on where the bottles are sourced from, but these are the bottles generally used for colas, mineral water, energy drinks and juices.

Team India’s uniform was designed after listening to feedback from athletes across various sports, and by collecting on-field movement (running, diving, stretching) data. Designers then developed the Dri-Fit Prime Lite fabric that stretches four ways, to improve comfort levels as well as movement speed. The material is much lighter than previous kits.

The micro-fibre, polyester fabric picks sweat from the body and directs it to the fabric surface, from where it evaporates. Ventilation zones (each hole is laser-designed to ensure uniform airflow) specifically cool parts of the body that sweat more.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first use of smart apparel in sports.

The England cricket team’s Twenty20 jersey (by Adidas) is made of a fabric woven with titanium and aluminium dots to pull heat away from the body. The dots are concentrated around the back and forearms, areas that Adidas’ research shows sweat more. The mesh-like micro-fibre design absorbs the sweat on the skin. Heike Leibl, senior vice-president, training, Adidas, says, “Cooling spheres provide an instant chill sensation to keep the athlete at their peak optimum temperature."

Ice hockey in the US could soon have jerseys with sensors to monitor player performance in the ring. The National Hockey League (NHL) is considering integrating one in the puck too to map numbers, like the number of shots taken at goal, total distance covered, who hit the most powerful shot, passing accuracy, etc. The idea is to not just use this for training, but also provide the statistics in real time to the fans.

The New Zealand national rugby union team, nicknamed All Blacks, wears perhaps the smartest kit. Adidas uses a body-mapping process called Dynamic Stretch Analysis, a method used in the aerospace industry, to ensure best possible fit and flexibility. Numbers were analysed to understand players’ bodies as they move; how much strain is applied, and in which direction. Based on the findings, Adidas designed two separate sets of jerseys, one for the forwards and one for the backline.

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