IPL returns home bigger than ever

MUMBAI, Mar 25:

Indian cricket’s crown jewel, the IPL, is back home: bigger, better and longer.
It will be the first time since 2011 that 10 teams be fighting it out for the most coveted T20 trophy in world cricket.
Two new entrants, Lucknow Supergiants and Gujarat Titans, fetching a combined price of approximately USD 1.7 billion shows that brand IPL keeps getting bigger.
It took 14 years but the league has now well and truly gone global.
The owners of the iconic Manchester Untied also wanted a slice of the IPL pie but lost to the RPSG Group and Britain-based CVC group on the bidding table.
With the COVID situation under control in the country, the board’s top-brass can breathe easy and after a two year gap, IPL is set to be held in India in its entirety with at least 25 percent capacity of crowd allowed in stadiums this season.
The number of games have been increased to 74 from 60 with the addition of new teams, extending the IPL window to over two months.
All teams however will play 14 games each like in the past but will a longer tournament impact the intensity and quality of cricket, only time will tell.
The board has learnt from the harsh lessons of the 2021 edition when the tournament had to be suspended midway due to the raging pandemic and could only be completed in the UAE four months later.
No air travel will be required this season with all the league games to be organised in four venues in Maharashtra (three Mumbai and one in Pune).
For curators, maintaining the trueness of pitches over two months will be a challenge but at least the half of the tournament is set to be a high-scoring affair.
One can expect more bounce on the red soil pitches of Wankhede, CCI and D Y Patil while the black soil surface in Pune is expected to offer more turn.
With Supergiants and Titans building their teams from scratch and the existing franchises having to release a chunk of their players before the mega auction, the 2022 edition can well be one of the most competitive in tournament history.
Ahead of the World Cup to be played in Australia later this year, the IPL will also decided fate of a few Indian players. (PTI)