Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the most popular T20 format cricket leagues in the world. The league was established in 2007 by the Board of control for cricket in India (BCCI) and the first season kicked off in 2008.
Since then it has become the most popular annual sporting event in India. The valuation of IPL as of 2019 was estimated at $6.7 billion and it is the most-attended cricket league globally. In comparison with other sports, IPL ranks 6th in terms of number attendees in a sports league.
The IPL schedule is published post auctioning of the players where the highest bidder can claim the player in their team similar to football leagues.
Indian Premier League uses the round-robin format in which each team plays with the other team twice, once on home ground while one away which is the first phase of the league. Once the first phase is over the top four teams qualify for the second phase which is playoffs. The top two teams play against each other in the first qualifying match and the winner goes directly to the IPL finals.
The losing team still gets a chance to go to the finals by playing the second qualifying match. In the meantime, the third and fourth teams play against each other in the elimination round. The winner from the elimination round will then play with the losing team of the first qualifying match. The winner of this second qualifying match goes to the final to face the winner of the first qualifying match.
The final match-winner becomes the Indian Premier League champion of the year.
Indian premier league since inception has had eight teams that are named after prominent cities representing different states of India. In the course of twelve seasons, there have been terminations of teams who have either broken the terms and conditions set by BCCI or have had a financial disagreement.
There have also been additions of new teams to replace the terminated ones to make sure that the number of participants in a season remains constant at eight.
The IPL tournament is held once a year. 2020 will mark the thirteenth edition of the cricket league. The IPL schedule more or less has stayed the same for all these years. The tournament kicks off in March and concludes in May. In the first phase of the tournament, a maximum of two IPL matches are played in a single day at 4 pm and 8 pm IST.
As discussed in the IPL format, most matches are played on the home ground of IPL teams, hence all the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Jaipur, Mohali, Ahmedabad, and Kochi are covered. Apart from these locations, IPL matches have also been played in Dharamshala, Nagpur, Vishakhapatnam, Ranchi, Rajkot, and Kanpur.
The stadiums where IPL takes place are the best in the world and have their own unique identity. For example the Eden Garden stadium in Kolkata has a capacity of 66,000 spectators making it the world’s second-largest stadium. The stadium is considered as Mecca for cricket fans. It is the home ground for two times IPL winner Kolkata Knight Riders.
Similarly we have Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Hyderabad that has a capacity of 55,000 spectators and is the world’s seventh biggest stadium. This stadium was originally known as Visaka international stadium but was controversially renamed to honor a former prime minister of India. It is the home ground of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
One of the smaller stadiums situated in Rajasthan is Sawai Mansingh stadium which has a capacity of 23,000 spectators. Interestingly this stadium was in a dire state and had become a wasteland until Ex BCCI Vice president Mr.Lalit Modi took the helm of renovating it in 2006. Post-renovation it has become one of the finest stadiums in India and is home ground to the first IPL champions, Rajasthan Royals.
M.Chidambaram stadium is one of the oldest stadiums in India and had hosted India’s first-ever test match win in 1951-52. The stadium is the home ground of Chennai Super Kings who are three-time IPL champions. The stadium is also famous for its spectators who are considered to be the most graceful and knowledgeable of all crowds in India.
M.Chinnaswamy stadium located in Bangalore is home ground to Royal challengers Bangalore and can host up to 40,000 spectators. It has one of the most interesting pitches which offers both good bounce and pace that can work in favor of both batsmen and bowlers. IPL’s most explosive batsmen Chris Gayle made a whopping 175 runs off just 66 balls at this stadium. Interestingly this same stadium was used for the 1996 Miss World competition.
We also have the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai which is the home ground to four-time IPL champions, Mumbai Indians. It has the capacity of 32,000 spectators and was constructed in 1974 making it fairly new compared to other stadiums. This stadium has stands that are named after iconic Mumbai cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. This is the same ground where Ravi Shastri hit six sixes in an over in 1985 while playing a first-class cricket match.
In 2009 the IPL schedule also included international locations and the matches were organized in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Centurion, East London, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Bloemfontein.
In 2014 as well IPL schedule had locations like Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai. But since 2014 all the IPL matches have been happening in Indian cities only.
Corona Virus Impact and delay
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the sporting events globally and IPL was no exception. The planned IPL Schedule was canceled and was postponed first to April and then indefinitely. There is an ongoing discussion to create a new IPL schedule that would happen in the month of July behind closed doors with no spectators. But there has not been any official confirmation yet.
So to conclude, IPL being one of the most awaited sporting events of the year, the 2020 IPL Schedule looks uncertain as of now but since it is the biggest sporting event that contributes a significant amount to India’s GDP, the Indian government and BCCI are planning out ways to organize the event keeping in mind the new norm of social distancing and hygiene.