The Changing Face of Cricket’s Indian Premier League

  • Kolkata Knight Riders have won the 2024 IPL in Chennai
  • Many records were broken in cricket’s blue riband event
  • All eyes shift to West Indies and USA as the T20 World Cup begins
IPL logo on phone
The IPL has shattered records this year as attention now turns to the T20 World Cup. [Image:]

Knight Riders win IPL

After 74 games and 65 days, the 2024 Indian Premier League finally boiled down to a shoot-out between the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Chennai. As it transpired, what had been a sensational tournament didn’t get the finale it deserved.

KKR’s win over the Royals was not a huge surprise as they started the final as favorite but few expected the margin of victory. After the Royals had been bowled all out for a miserly 113 in 18.3 overs, KKR knocked the runs off in just 10.3 overs for the loss of just two wickets.

It was the biggest winning margin in any IPL final  – a record that sits alongside many others that have been set in this year’s tournament, including the number of sixes.  

been the perfect platform for the world’s best limited-over cricketers

With the T20 World Cup just a matter of weeks away, it provided the perfect platform for the world’s best limited-over cricketers to hone their skills ahead of the sport’s greatest show on Earth – an accolade it has had to wrestle away from the IPL.

If the World Cup generates anything like the excitement  just witnessed in India, it will be a roaring success, but what it won’t do is generate crowds on the same scale. 

The biggest stadium being used in the World Cup is the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, which houses 28,000. This compares to the IPL’s biggest stadium – the  Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, which holds 132,000.

At the other end of the scale, the IPL’s smallest stadium is the HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala, which holds 21,200. This is still twice the size of the World Cup’s smallest venue, the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, which has a capacity of 10,000.

Basically, the scale of the IPL, from almost every metric, dwarfs anything else in world cricket, including a T20 World Cup. Its only rival in terms of cricketing grandeur – and for very different reasons – is The Ashes.

Record-breaking IPL

But even by IPL standards, this year’s iteration has been a run-fest of massive proportions. Prior to this season, the highest-ever team score in the competition was set by the Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) in 2013 when they scored 263/5 in their match with Pune Warriors India. But that score has been bettered four times this season.

The record is now with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) who scored an incredible 287/3 in their game with RCB – a score that a few years ago would have been considered unachievable. For context, that’s 14.35 scored per over or, to put it another way, 2.4 runs per ball!

To use the modern-day vernacular, T20 cricket, and the IPL in particular, has become a slug-fest where almost everything, including the flat pitches, is heavily skewed in favor of the batter.

No losers in the IPL

For some time now, the bigwigs of the IPL have identified that it’s runs that the spectators want to see and in order to fill their massive stadia, the conditions need to be right for lots of runs to be scored – hence the flat batting tracks. But this year, it has gone to a new level.

Some commentators have even gone as far as to say that today’s IPL is becoming more baseball than cricket.

But it’s fun. And almost everyone wins.

eye-watering sums of money

The fans get to see fours and sixes by the bucketload, the volume of which have never been seen before, while the franchise holders and the IPL itself generate the eye-watering sums of money needed to attract the world’s best cricketers.

And they’re not the only winners. The players too earn multimillion-dollar contracts – sums that a few years ago would have been way beyond the reach of professional cricketers. For example, it was reported that Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc was paid a staggering $2.9m for his three months with KKR.

The only losers in all of this are the cricketing purists. Those who value the importance of four and five-day cricket, a rock-solid forward defensive, and cucumber sandwiches at lunch. And that’s fine. The divergence from the game as it was played 50 years ago is stark and it’s not for some. But for many this is what 21st-century cricket should be all about.

For the record, aside from KKR, the other big IPL winners of 2024 were Virat Kohli (most runs – 741 – at an average of 61.75), Harshal Patel (most wickets – 24 – at an average of 19.87), with Sunil Narine named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. 

Interestingly, of those three, only Kohli will be appearing in the T20 World Cup. Patel didn’t make the cut when India’s multi-talented squad was narrowed down to its final 15, and Narine announced his retirement from international cricket last November.

T20 World Cup offers different challenge

But for those who will be spending their June in either the Caribbean or the US, what awaits is a very different challenge to the one just experienced in India.

While the crowds will no doubt be just as passionate, as mentioned above, they will be much smaller in number. And while the cricket will be of a high standard, the thrills and spills of the IPL are not guaranteed, with the wickets likely to offer a more even challenge to the speed merchants, the spin bowlers, and the batters.

Favorite to win the title is India, listed as short as +225, while Australia is second favorite at +333. The current holder, England, is listed at +500 (all with Paddy Power).

So, strap in. A festival of cricket awaits. Just don’t expect this one to be an all-in slug-fest.

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