The IPL is one of the most celebrated, cash-rich, and watched sporting contests in the world. But how did the competition get so popular? Why do all the world's best players pine for a spot at an IPL franchise? What can the IPL do to continue its dominance in the theatre of cricket?
We look at the history of the Indian Premier League, its controversies, its successes and how IPL betting became the biggest form of gambling in India!
The IPL came into existence in 2008 at the imagination of some creative minds from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Based on a round-robin format, the competition includes teams from most major cities across India, creating loyal and factional supporter groups across the nation. The IPL was in response to the Twenty20 Cup (now the T20 Blast) that was set up in the United Kingdom in 2003 to become the world's first professional Twenty20 league.
Eight teams competed for the inaugural title - Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings, Dehli Daredevils, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and the Deccan Chargers. The Royals proved too strong for the rest - winning the league standings by two points before triumphing in the play-offs against the Super Kings.
After starting with eight franchises, the IPL's number increased to 10 teams in the 2011 format after the Kochi Tuskers Kerala and the Pune Warriors India joined the roster. It began a period of a lot of chopping and changing - some teams failed to last long, while others couldn't decide on a suitable name.
The Kochi Tuskers Kerala were around for just one season - a dispute among board members meant they dissolved the following year, and the 2012 and 2013 competitions were back down to nine outfits.
In 2014, the Pune Warriors India were expelled by the BCCI for failing their financial obligations, and the IPL was back down to eight teams.
A 2013 betting scandal also rocked the IPL to its core - a panel appointed by the Supreme Court Of India found the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings guilty and banned them for the 2016 and 2017 contests. They were replaced by the Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants for two years as replacements - both sides are now disbanded, however. The Royals and the Super Kings were reinstated for 2018 running.
The explosion of income for cricket's biggest stars was driven by the financial might of the Indian Premier League.
Its salary structure is fascinating - unique in the world of elite-level sport. At the beginning of the season, out-of-contract players are ear-marked for an auction. Bidding begins at the base price, and the team with the most significant offer will bag the player. The entire bid amount will end up in the player's pocket - taxes are deducted according to the rules of the player's home nation.
Frankly - the future looks very financially exciting for the country's largest sporting export.
With the addition of Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, there are an extra 14 matches in IPL 2022 from which the BCCI will benefit in TV fees and sponsorship deals.
The auction was won by PSG Ventures Ltd, which now has the ownership rights of the Lucknow franchise and private equity firm Irelia Company Pte Ltd. (CVC Capital Partners), which has bought the Ahmedabad team. The combined cost of the two teams came to about $1.7billlion - all of which will line the coffers of the BCCI.
It gets better for the financial backers of the IPL - there will be a media and digital rights auction in 2023, and there is an expectation that any deal will double from its current size to stand at a whopping 32,694 crore - or $4.3billion!
There are hopes the IPL will help continue the development of the women's game by creating a women's equivalent of the competition. So far, though, there are no confirmed plans.