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IPL - The Indian Premier League

IPL Indian Premier League

The sport of cricket is effectively a religion in the Indian subcontinent. With hundreds of millions of worshippers in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and SriLanka, cricket is literally a way of life here. Despite the sport being played by less than 20 nations at the top level, it is still one of the most popular and watched sports in the world, thanks to the incredible population of the subcontinent. However, the game’s popularity seemed to be dipping back in 2006, as faster-paced sports such as football and tennis were picking up at a tremendous pace in India. The next generation of young athletes were drawn more towards Chelsea and Manchester United, than the good old Ashes. But then, in 2008, the biggest game-changer in cricket history was born. The IPL (Indian Premier League) changed the way the world looked at cricket forever.

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The Birth Of The Indian Premier League

The year was 2007. India were playing in the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup in South Africa, but even before they had played their first match, Mr Lalit Modi had set certain plans in motion that would see the T20 format become the face of the sport for years to come. The success of the domestic T20 tournaments in England (a desperate measure initially, to increase viewership of a dying sport), coupled with the fact that the Zee Group had ambitiously launched a T20 league called Indian Cricket League, the same name that Lalit Modi had registered a company with, led a furious Modi to collaborate with the BCCI to form a brand new cricket league.

On 13th September 2007, The Indian Premier League was born, at a function held in New Delhi, attended by the ICC Chief Ray Mali, as well as the BCCI Chief Sharad Pawar, who praised Lalit Modi for his determination to bring the IPL to life. Being endorsed by the two most powerful men in the world of cricket made it very easy for Modi to get the approvals of all the main cricket boards across the world for access to their primary pool of players, ensuring that the IPL is going to be a star-studded affair right from the word go.

The Glitz And Glamour When Bollywood Met Cricket – A New Era

Just a couple of weeks after the IPL was formally announced, India won the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup with a dramatic last over win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the final, sending fans into an absolute frenzy. Wild celebrations followed for many days after the win, and the whole country united in sheer joy, highlighting the popularity and acceptance of the T20 format. The fact that it was India who won the first ever T20 World Cup gave Lalit Modi and the other organizers the confidence to go all out with their proposed league.

The plan was to make it large, beyond anyone’s imagination. And what better way than to combine the two most passionately followed industries in the country – Cricket and Bollywood. Prominent Bollywood celebrities were invited to purchase teams in the newly proposed franchise-based tournament, to increase the glamour quotient as well as giving them an exciting platform to tap in to the eventual profits.

  • The ‘King Of Bollywood’ Shahrukh Khan was one of the first and biggest names to sign up for this league, His production company Red Chillies Entertainment, in partnership with another famous actress Juhi Chawla, purchased the Kolkata franchise for a sum $75 million, and promptly named it Kolkata Knight Riders.
  • Preity Zinta was the next big Bollywood biggie to sign up, along with her then partner Ness Wadia. Together they purchased 46% of the Punjab franchise, and named it Kings XI Punjab.
  • Popular actress and yoga master Shilpa Shetty too got into the act, purchasing a stake in Rajasthan Royals along with her husband Raj Kundra.
  • India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani could obviously not stay behind, and his wife Nita Ambani purchased 100% stake in the Mumbai franchise, naming it Mumbai Indians.
  • Apart from the owners, the teams got their own ambassadors as well, to increase their appeal off the pitch as well. Delhi’s franchise was then called Delhi Daredevils, and they roped in popular actor and local boy Akshay Kumar as their brand ambassador.
  • On the pitch, the introduction of talented cheerleaders, mostly foreigners, was another very popular move by the organizers which certainly increased the glamour quotient of the whole spectacle.

The overall hype generated by mixing the most popular Bollywood figures with some of the best cricketers in the world, meant that the world could simply not wait for the inaugural Indian Premier League Season to begin.

The Inaugural Indian Premier League Season

The wait was finally over, on 18th April 2008, after the most dazzling opening ceremony ever seen in Indian sport, in front of a jam packed Chinaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, under the lights, the IPL officially kicked off.

Several high-profile artists and performers dazzled the capacity crowd, while captains of every franchise took an introductory lap around the field. A spectacular fireworks show wowed the crowd, but something even more explosive was awaiting them. It’s been 12 years since that epic night in Bangalore, and till today no cricket fan can ever forget what one man did to single-handedly increase the IPL’s profile on the first day itself. Brendon McCullum, remember the name.

The Inaugural Match

The first ever IPL match was played between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), under the lights, at the Chinaswamy Stadium on 18th April 2008. Shahrukh Khan had got his entire entourage to support his team, with many prominent celebrities in attendance and they were visibly overjoyed with the opening ceremony. Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum though, had other ideas. He made the night his own.

Sent in to open the innings with the legendary Sourav Ganguly at the other end, McCullum proceeded to indulge in the sort of big hitting the Indian crowds had never seen before. Shattering several records on the night, McCullum ended the night with a mammoth score of 158* off just 73 balls, wowing everyone in attendance and introducing the IPL to the world in style. He rained an unbelievable 13 sixes, instantly earning legendary status. His team comfortably won that match by a huge margin.

Before the first match, everyone was naturally excited about the Indian Premier League, the fanfare was there, the glamour was there, but still no one knew exactly what to expect and how it would pan out. But all that changed after Brendan’s swashbuckling innings. The IPL had arrived, and how. Cricket was never the same after that night. If there ever was ONE innings that completely changed the face of cricket, it was this one.

The Success Of The IPL

Over the past decade, The Indian Premier League has evolved to become one of the most widely-watched tournaments across the world of sports. In 2019, The IPL had a whopping 462 million viewers on Star channels, the official broadcasters and an additional 300 million viewers on Hotstar, the official digital media channel.

The IPL is a very financially rewarding investment for franchise owners as well. Almost 60% of the tournament’s total revenue comes from sponsorships. 50% of this amount is then distributed among the franchises. 60% of the broadcasting rights are also redistributed among the franchises. Along with this, every franchise has their own set of sponsors as well, who pay a significant amount for visibility on their shirts. Ticket sales also generate a significant amount of money for all the teams, while merchandising is another big plus. Overall, buying a franchise in the IPL is an extremely lucrative proposition.

The money aside, the rise of talented uncapped Indian cricketers, combined with fan interaction by franchises with their cities, and the presence of Bollywood celebrities make the IPL the one stop shop of glamour and entertainment in the country, leading to its incredible success over the years.

The IPL Playing Format

The Indian Premier League is a franchise-based tournament where 8 different Indian cities are represented by 8 privately owned franchises. As of 2020, the current 8 franchises are:

Chennai SuperkingsRoyal Challengers Bangalore
Kings XI PunjabMumbai Indians
Kolkata Knight RidersRajasthan Royals
Delhi CapitalsSunrisers Hyderabad

The Famous IPL Auction

One of the most highly awaited nights in the world of sports, is the annual IPL auction, where some of the best players in the world are purchased for sometimes exorbitant amounts, after frequent bidding wars between the franchises. It is a night full of drama and excitement, as fans tune in to see who all their favourite team will bring in, similar to the excitement of the football transfer window, but imagine fitting the whole window in one night!

Format of the Auction

  • Each team is allotted a fixed budget (Rs 85 crores in 2019) to fill up their squads with up to 25 players. The team can also use a part of this budget to retain certain players and use the rest to bid for new players.
  • A squad can have between 19-25 players, with no more than 8 overseas players. The starting 11 of any team cannot consist of more than 4 overseas players.
  • Every player who has listed himself in the auction has to set a base price, at which the franchises can start bidding for him. Many times players who set the highest base price (Rs 2 crores) often go unsold.
  • Teams also get an RTM (Right-To-Match) card, which enables them to match any winning bid for a former player. This often adds a lot of drama to the auction night.
  • The most expensive player(s) to have been auctioned off have been Yuvraj Singh and Ben Stokes, who were both purchased for a whopping Rs 16 crores. Virat Kohli, however, is the most highly paid cricketer in the IPL, after RCB paid 17 crores to retain him in 2019.

The League Format

  • The IPL follows a traditional league + knockout format, with 8 different teams playing each other home and away, resulting in 14 league games per side. 2 points are awarded per win and 1 for a no result.
  • At the end of 14 matches, the bottom 4 teams in the league table are eliminated, while the top 4 qualify for the playoffs.
  • IPL’s revised playoff rule now sees the 3rd and 4th team play each other in an eliminator, where the losing team gets eliminated.
  • The top 2 teams have an advantage as they get 2 shots at making the final. They face each other in qualifier 1, where the winner proceeds to the final, and the losing team faces the winner of the eliminator, in qualifier 2. The winners of both qualifiers face each other in the final.

The Summary Of Every IPL Season So Far

IPL 2008 – The Inaugural Season Of The Indian Premier League

The inaugural season of the IPL in 2008 was an unforgettable experience. It was the world’s first look at all the drama and the excitement the IPL had to provide. Plenty of twists and turns on the pitch as well as off it. Rajasthan Royals chased down a target of 164 set by the Chennai Superkings to become the first ever champions of the Indian Premier League, under the guidance of the legendary Shane Warne. This season was also in the news for a huge controversy, the infamous ‘slap-gate’ incident where experienced Indian spinner slapped Sreesanth after an altercation after a match. The incident made headlines and also demonstrated the amount of focus that was on the IPL.

WinnersRajasthan Royals
Most Valuable PlayerShane Watson of the Rajasthan Royals
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Sohail Tanvir of the Rajasthan Royals with 22 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Shaun Marsh of Kings XI Punjab with 616 runs

IPL 2009 – Held In South Africa

The second season of the Indian Premier League coincided with the 2009 Indian General Elections, hence the BCCI decided to shift the tournament to South Africa, a move which injected almost $100 million in the South African economy. The tournament was one of the most widely watched and appreciated cricketing events of all time, shattering many viewing records. Legendary Australian keeper Adam Gilchrist led his Deccan Chargers team to an inspirational title win, almost single handedly.

Winners Deccan Chargers
Most Valuable PlayerAdam Gilchrist of the Deccan Chargers
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)R P Singh of Deccan Chargers with 23 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Mathew Hayden of Chennai Superkings with 572 runs

IPL 2010

The 2010 edition of the Indian Premier League saw the tournament head back to India. It was the first edition of the IPL that was telecasted live on online streaming platform Youtube as well. This tournament saw the emergence of the Chennai Superkings as the dominant force of the league as they dominated their way to the title, defeating Mumbai Indians in the final under the able leadership of MS Dhoni.

WinnersChennai Super Kings
Most Valuable PlayerSachin Tendulkar of the Mumbai Indians
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Pragyan Ojha of the Deccan Chargers with 21 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap)Sachin Tendulkar of the Mumbai Indians  with 618 runs

IPL 2011 – First edition with 10 teams instead of 8

The 2011 IPL was the most unique season of the league so far, with the number of teams in the league being extended to 10 from 8. The introduction of Kochi Tuskers Kerala  and Pune Warriors India led to a new 10 team format, with a total of 74 matches being played. Despite the other teams strengthening considerably, Chennai Super Kings became the first team to retain the title and became back to back champions by beating Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final.

WinnersChennai Super Kings
Most Valuable Player Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore
Most Wickets (Purple Cap) Lasith Malinga of Mumbai Indians with 28 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore with 608 runs

IPL 2012 – First IPL with 9 teams

This season the number of teams went down to 9, from 10, as Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise was terminated. This was the most competitive season in IPL history, with a staggering 19 matches being decided in the last over of the match. In a keenly contested final, KKR beat CSK by chasing down an impressive score of 190 in the last over, for their first title win.

WinnersKolkata Knight Riders
Most Valuable PlayerSunil Narine of Kolkata Knight Riders
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Morne Morkel of Delhi Daredevils with 25 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap)Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore with 733 runs

IPL 2013 – Last IPL with 9 teams

The 6th edition of the IPL saw plenty of changes to the league. Pune Warriors India decided to terminate their franchise at the end of the season. There were also troubles obtaining No-objection certificates for Bangladeshi and Srilankan cricketers. 3 Rajasthan Royals cricketers were arrested on suspicion of match-fixing. On the pitch, however, it was a keenly contested tournament as always, with the Mumbai Indians winning their first title by beating arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings in the final.

WinnersMumbai Indians
Most Valuable PlayerShane Watson of the Rajasthan Royals
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Dwayne Bravo of Chennai Super Kings with 32 wickets (record)
Most Runs (Orange Cap)Micheal Hussey of the Chennai Super Kings with 733 runs

IPL 2014 – Back to the 8 team format and co-hosted by UAE

The 7th edition of the IPL saw the league go back to the 8 team format after the termination of the Pune franchise. It was also the first time the IPL was co-hosted between two countries, again due to the 2014 Indian General Elections. UAE hosted the first half of the tournament, while the second half was hosted by India as usual. In the final, KKR defeated Kings XI Punjab to win their 2nd title.

WinnersKolkata Knight Riders
Most Valuable PlayerGlen Maxwell of Kings XI Punjab
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Mohit Sharma of Chennai Super Kings with 23 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Robin Uthappa of Kolkata Knight Riders with 660 runs

IPL 2015

The 8th edition of the Indian Premier League was relatively controversy free as a replay of the 2013 final saw Mumbai Indians win their 2nd title, by beating Chennai Super Kings again. This edition also saw the introduction of IPL Fan Parks, in cities where matches were not held.

WinnersMumbai Indians
Most Valuable PlayerAndre Russel of Kolkata Knight Riders
Most Wickets (Purple Cap) Dwayne Bravo of Chennai Super Kings with 26 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap)David Warner of Sunrisers Hyderabad with 562 runs.

IPL 2016 – Two New Teams Enter The Fray

The IPL 2016 was famous for the wrong reasons as well, as a high-profile spot fixing case led to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals being banned for 2 seasons, and they were replaced by Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Super Giants. These new teams were allowed to pick 5 players each from the banned teams. In the final, the trophy continued to elude Virat Kohli despite an amazing individual campaign, as Sunrisers Hyderabad defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore to win their second title.

Winners Sunrisers Hyderabad
Most Valuable Player Virat Kohli of the Royal Challengers Bangalore
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Bhuvneshwar Kumar of the Sunrisers Hyderabad with 23 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Virat Kohli of the Royal Challengers Bangalore with 973 runs

IPL 2017

The 10th edition of the IPL was the last one with Rising Pune Super Giants and Gujarat Lions. The Pune franchise impressed everyone by progressing to the final of the tournament, where they lost by just 1 run in a thrilling match against the Mumbai Indians, who won their 3rd title, becoming the first team to do so.

WinnersMumbai Indians
Most Valuable PlayerBen Stokes of Rising Pune Super Giants
Most Wickets (Purple Cap) Bhuvneshwar Kumar of the Sunrisers Hyderabad with 26 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap)David Warner of Sunrisers Hyderabad with 641 runs

IPL 2018 – The Return Of The Banned Teams

The 11th edition of the IPL saw the two banned teams – Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals make a comeback, and the Chennai franchise showed the world who the real IPL kings are by straightaway winning the tournament after their return from the ban.

WinnersChennai Super Kings
Most Valuable PlayerSunil Narine of the Kolkata Knight Riders
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Andrew Tye of Kings XI Punjab with 24 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap) Kane Williamson of the Sunrisers Hyderabad with 735 runs.

IPL 2019  

The 12th edition of the IPL was an incredibly tight affair, with every team capable of beating every other team regardless of their league standings. The edition saw one of the most dramatic finals in IPL history, with arch rivals Mumbai and Chennai squaring off in a match full of dramatic twists and turns, with Mumbai eventually hanging on for another 1 run victory to lift their 4th title.

WinnersMumbai Indians
Most Valuable PlayerAndre Russel of the Kolkata Knight Riders
Most Wickets (Purple Cap)Imran Tahir of the Chennai Super Kings with 26 wickets
Most Runs (Orange Cap)David Warner of Sunrisers Hyderabad with 692 runs

IPL Records and Stats

Cricket is a game which heavily relies on statistics, with so many metrics to fill in batting as well as bowling. The IPL has seen many record-breaking superstars over the years, as listed below:

Most Runs – Virat Kohli

No surprises there as Indian Captain Virat Kohli, widely regarded as the best batsman in the world, has scored more runs than anyone in IPL history, amassing 5412 runs in 169 innings, at an average of 37.84, studded with 5 centuries. Despite being the top scorer in IPL history, Kohli has surprisingly never won the IPL title.

Most Sixes and Highest Score – Chris Gayle

The most destructive batsman the world has ever seen, Christopher Henry Gayle is an IPL legend in every sense of the word. He has scored 4484 runs in just 124 innings at an impressive average of 41.13. He is most famous for his massive sixes, and he has hit 326 of them in the IPL, way clear of his competition. His record-breaking innings of 175* off just 66 balls, with 17 sixes (another record) is unlikely to ever be beaten. He also holds the record for the most IPL centuries, with 6 to his name.

Most Wickets – Lasith Malinga

The flamboyant Srilankan pacer with his trademark slinging action has terrorized IPL batsmen ever since he made his debut here. The Mumbai Indian’s strike bowler has taken a whopping 170 wickets in just 122 innings, and has been one of the biggest reasons behind Mumbai Indians’ success.

Conclusion

The Indian Premier League has changed the way cricket is watched and played across the world. It has fully made T20 cricket the most popular format of the sport, which has had a knock-down effect on Test Cricket as well, where more matches now see results than draws, with the game being much faster-paced. Even in One Day Internationals, a score of 320+ also looks chase-able now, while it was almost impossible earlier. T20s have changed and revived the sport of cricket, and no one has done more in this regard than the Indian Premier League.