IPL - Indian Premier League Pitch

Indian Premier League (IPL)

There are few countries that love anything the same way that India loves cricket. Sure, the US might love its American Football. The UK might love its football. Australia might love stripping their countrymen down and watching them crash into each other in Aussie Rules. But are any of those sports literally ingrained into the blood of their people? Do they love those sports so much that they would jump off a cliff for them?

Okay, maybe that’s taking it a bit far. It’s unlikely that anyone in India would follow cricket off a cliff, but the point is the sport is an intrinsic part of India’s identity. It’s not just the sport of India, it is a part of India. Their best cricket superstars become legends of the country, their cricket team might as well be waved off in a nationwide ceremony come to every World Cup. India really, really loves its cricket. 

This is perhaps the reason that the Indian Premier League (IPL) has become the biggest cricket league in the world. When Indian organisational bodies put on their own cricket league, they take it very seriously. They don’t want just another cricket league. They want the best cricket league, with a perfect platform for their players to grow, develop and ultimately become world-beaters. 

It almost seems bizarre, then, that the IPL only started back in 2008. If cricket is such an intrinsic part of India’s identity, why has a league this popular only been put into action fifteen years ago? What happened before then, and how did it come to pass that the IPL – in such a short amount of time – became recognised as the best cricket league in the world? Well, we’re about to explain all of that and more. Starting with the 101:

IPL: The 101

  • The IPL is an annual T20 cricket tournament that was founded by BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi.
  • It takes place in March, April, and May every year, lasting around seven weeks.
  • There are eight teams in all, each one of which represents an Indian city. Franchises acquire players with an annual auction, where they can trade and sign players in specific training windows. Squads consist of 19 to 25 players, with an allowance of eight overseas players maximum.
  • During the tournament, each of the eight teams plays each other home and away, with teams earning points for every win or tie.
  • Teams get two points for a win. One point for a draw. No points for a defeat.
  • At the end of the round-robin structure, the top four teams move through to the playoffs.
  • The first and second-placed teams play each other in what is known as “Qualifier 1”. The winner of the game progresses to the final.
  • The third and fourth teams then play each other in what is known as an “Eliminator”. The team who wins doesn’t progress straight to the final but instead plays the loser of “Qualifier 1”. 
  • The winner of that game then progresses to the final, where the winner is declared champion of the IPL season.

An Illustrious History Of The Indian Premier League (IPL)

As mentioned before, the IPL has been running for fifteen years, and in that time, it has become recognised as the ultimate tournament in T20 cricket. But why is it still so young? Well, to understand that, it’s important to understand the context of India and cricket as a whole.

The 18th to 19th Century

 India first became an official ICC member in 1928, but their relationship with cricket started way before that. The first ever mention of Indian cricket is dated all the way back to 1721 when a member of the East India Trading Company wrote about his experiences playing cricket on the outskirts of Mumbai. He notes in his writing that the locals were particularly interested in the sport. 

Years later, in 1848, the first ever Indian community-based club was formed, known as the Oriental Cricket Club. This then spurred on a number of cricket clubs to open their doors, with the Young Zoroastrians Club opening in 1850 and then the Hindu Gymkhana in 1866. India grew incredibly popular across the country, building up their game until they officially got granted test match status. 

That being said, you might be wondering about the gap between the years 1721 and 1848. As discussed, it was a group of British expatriates who first brought the concept of cricket to Indian shores, and throughout those years, they dominated the club game, especially with the formation of the Calcutta Cricket Club in 1792 and then the Old Etonian club in 1802. 

But, as referenced in the writing of the East India Trading Company member, the locals were interested in the sport. In fact, they were playing it. It doesn’t take much to play a cricket game – only a bat, ball and a few willing participants are required – and throughout those years, India was growing acclimatised to it. No, more than that, they were falling in love. But they were doing it in their own way.

The 20th to 21st Century

It took another 200 years before that love brought about their very first experience of cricketing dominance. According to cricketing legend, India became a “final frontier”  in the 1960s, with Australia, especially, unable to win a series there for decades. In 1983, the country won its first-ever Cricket World Cup and then the ICC Champions Trophy nearly twenty years later, in 2002

Further on, in 2007, they won their first-ever T20 World Cup, and this is when things started to change. Cricket was ingrained in India’s culture, from the city of Mumbai to the gully games of the Maidan countryside. They were also now world-beaters, especially with this new streamlined, powerful, attacking reimagination of the game. The time was ripe, then, that they put all of these traits into creating a league which would be recognised as the world’s best.

2008 to 2023

In 2008, the BCCI announced a franchise-based T20 competition to be reigned in with a high-profile ceremony in New Delhi. The league’s format was to be similar to the Premier League in England and the NBA in the United States – in other words, it was to become the bedrock of Indian cricket, the same way those tournaments are the bedrock of their own countries.  

In its first fifteen years, the IPL has proven to be that and then some. Players in the country are treated almost like demi-gods, with a general feeling that India has finally proven its claim to cricketing prowess – a claim that had been building up for over two hundred or more years. That’s not to say it was an easy road, however. In 2012, one of the franchises was terminated after being unable to find a new owner and, in 2013, Pune Warriors India withdrew over financial differences. 

But the tournament itself has remained strong. The 2022 final also had an official attendance of 1,04,859. It was also revealed that IPL viewership had peaked with 421 million views, with the 2023 season set to reach 523 million. These are huge figures that are unprecedented in the game, demonstrating just how much love there is in the country for the sport and how far Indian cricket has come to become the spiritual home of cricket.  

Indian Premier League: Famous Players

Even in the fifteen years that the IPL has been going, there have been a number of extraordinary players that have – of course – become legends in India as a result of their cricketing skills. One of these players is Sachin Tendulkar, who racked up a number of 2,281 runs, with a 30.01 average and a 119.6 strike rate in his career. Madder still, he only ever played one T20 international, despite the fact he was such a legend of the format at club level. 

Another notable alumni is West Indian Chris Gayle. Over his career, he has become known not only as one of the most powerful batsmen in India but in the entire world. His dominating nature at the crease saw him hit 175 runs against Pune back in 2013, which is the highest score in IPL history. So far, he has racked up 4,965 runs, a 39.72 average and a 152.3 strike rate. 

Also on the list of best IPL players is Lasith Malinga. It’s easy to overlook the bowlers in a “best of” article – such is the star power of the men with the bat! – but Malinga has proved himself to be a prodigy of India. He is the only man to get nearly 140 wickets in the IPL, hosting the best bowling average and economy rate in the league. He retired in 2021, but in his illustrious career, he accumulated 139 wickets with a 19.35 average and an economy of 7.12. 

Lastly, we would be foolish not to mention the Godlike status of Suresh Raina. He is the lead run-scorer in the history of IPL, with 5,528 runs overall and an incredible 32.51 average. While it has to be said his skills did not quite pay off at the Test level, he was still one of the most prized batsmen in a league that was already saturated with immense skill and ability.

Indian Premier League (IPL): DAZN Bet’s Pop Quiz

So there we have it. We’ve talked about India’s love of cricket, their build to dominance and then their opportunity to create the most competitive and entertaining cricket league in the world. What’s left to do other than watch the 2023 season? 

But before you do that, you’re going to need a few more facts and figures to really get you in the mood. Below are ten questions and answers to provide the finishing touches on your Indian cricket education:

Q: Who Won The First Ever IPL Final?

A: The very first season of IPL was won by Rajasthan Royals. They had to chase 163, and they did it with 3 wickets to spare.

Q: Who Has Scored The Most Hundreds In The IPL?

A: Chris Gayle – mentioned earlier – is one of the greatest cricket players in IPL history. He has a total of 6 centuries, which is still the most centuries scored by a batsman in the IPL.

Q: What’s Been The Highest Successful Chase In The IPL?

A: The highest run chase was performed in 2020. The Rajasthan Royals chased down a total of 224 runs, beating Kings XI Punjab by four wickets.

Q: What Team Has Won The IPL The Most Times?

A: Over fifteen years, the Mumbai Indians have proven themselves to be one of the most dominating teams in the tournament, with five trophies overall – won in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. Not far behind them is the Chennai Super Kings, who have won four championships – in 2010, 2011, 2018 and then 2021. 

Q: What Is The Fiercest Rivalry In The IPL?

A: It’s hard to say what the fiercest rivalry is in the IPL, but two teams who never fail to produce breathtaking, aggressive and competitive matches are Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

Q: Who Has The Most Ducks In IPL?

A: On the – slightly unenviable – list of “most ducks” is Mandeep Singh, Sunil Narine and Dinesh Karthik, who share first place with 15 ducks each. Ouch.

Q: Which Bowler Has Bowled The Most Ducks In IPL?

A: We don’t mean to be nasty, though! Listing the ducks is all about congratulating the skill of the bowlers, right? So far, Rohit Sharma has the most ducks in IPL history, with 14. Not far behind him is Virat Kohli, with 9. 

Q: Who Is The Number One Batsman In 2023?

A: So far, the top-scoring batsman in IPL 2023 is Faf du Plessis, who has scored 405 runs in a total of 7 matches – with a highest score of 84. Trailing behind him is Devon Conway, with 314 runs over 7 matches and a highest score of 83.

Q: Who Is The Number One Bowler In 2023?

A: So far, the player with the most wickets in IPL 2023 is Rashid Khan, who has racked up a total of 14 wickets in 7 matches – with an average of 16.14 and an economy of 8.07. In second place is Mohammed Siraj, who has 13 wickets – with an average of 15.38 and an economy of 7.14. 

Q: Which Team Will Win The IPL 2023?

A: As far as the number one bowlers and batters are concerned, whoever, it could all be about to change! The season for this year is underway, and the competition is as fierce as ever. In terms of the teams who are looking good to win the tournament, however, we would say that the Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals have the best chance of success. But who knows? As ever with Indian cricket, it’s all up for grabs, and history is always waiting to be made!