What is the Indian Premier League?
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a franchise-based Twenty20 competition organised by the BCCI, and backed by the ICC. It features the world's best cricketers playing - their affiliation decided by open auction - for eight city-based franchises, owned by a host of businessmen and celebrity consortiums. The first season was held successfully in India in 2008, while the second edition, which coincided with general elections in India, was shifted to South Africa. The tournament returned to India for the third edition.
Why has the IPL generated such a buzz?
Two main reasons why. One the football-club concept of the IPL, which is unlike anything cricket has known. The best players from across the world playing, not on the basis of nationality but dictated by market forces. Second, the sheer financial scale of the IPL is unprecedented at this level of cricket. The BCCI made close to $ 1.75 billion solely from the sale of TV rights ($908 million), promotion ($108 million) and franchises (approximately $700 million). There are now several players on contracts worth more than $1 million annually. It's an entire cricket economy - and one unaffected by recession - out there.
Who are the top cricketers involved?
Almost everyone who's anyone in world cricket, from current stars to recently retired all-time greats. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Adam Gilchrist, Sachin Tendulkar, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya are regulars; while players like Shaun Marsh, Yusuf Pathan and Sohail Tanvir and Dirk Nannes have gone on to accomplish big things after first making a mark in IPL. England went largely unrepresented in the first season but their two biggest stars, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, came on-board in the second edition, after signing on for an unprecedented $1.55 million by Bangalore Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings respectively. Pakistan's players missed out after the first edition, while Australia's top current players Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting opted out in order to focus on the international game.
Who are the franchise owners - celebrities and others?
Mukesh Ambani, the Reliance Industries chairman, acquired the Mumbai franchise for $111.9 million over a 10-year period; beer and airline baron Vijay Mallya, who also owns a Formula 1 team, won the Bangalore franchise for $111.6 million; Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's Red Chillies Entertainment won the Kolkata franchise for $75 million; the biggest surprise was the Punjab franchise, which went to Preity Zinta, another Bollywood star, and Ness Wadia, together with two other industrialists, for $75 million. Shilpa Shetty, another popular Bollywood star, joined the Rajasthan Royals franchise after the first season. India Cements owns the Chennai-based franchise, while the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers franchise is owned by the Deccan Chronicle group.
In 2010, two new franchises were added to the IPL family. The Pune franchise was snapped up by Subroto Roy of the Sahara Group for a whopping $375 million, while a consortium of five companies called Rendezvous Sports World shelled out $333.33 million for the Kochi franchise.
The teams (for the first three seasons) are: Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals (Jaipur), Bangalore Royal Challengers, Mumbai Indians, Deccan Chargers (Hyderabad) and Kings XI Punjab (Mohali).
How are the players paired with teams?
The first player auction, on February 20 2008, had franchises bid for a maximum of eight international players from a pool of 89. Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag were given 'icon' status by the BCCI - they represented the city in which they are based. A similar, truncated process was followed in 2009, with 17 players picked. Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach and Shane Bond were the big picks in the third auction.
How did the player auctions pan out?
India's ODI captain Dhoni and Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds were the big buys at the first auction in Mumbai, with the Chennai franchise buying Dhoni for $1.5 million and Hyderabad bidding successfully for Symonds at $1.3 million. India's young stars Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma and Manoj Tiwary together fetched nearly $3 million. The auction for the second season was on a much smaller scale, with 17 players bought by the various franchises. Pietersen and Flintoff were the most popular buys, and among the relatively newer faces, JP Duminy was snapped up for $950,000 by Mumbai Indians, and Tyron Henderson by Rajasthan Royals for $650,000. The surprise package was Mashrafe Mortaza, who was bought for a whopping $600,000 by Kolkata Knight Riders. Pollard and Bond fetched the upper limit of $ 750,000 in the third auction, while Kemar Roach and Wayne Parnell also went for high amounts.
Whose idea is the IPL?
The IPL is the brainchild of Lalit Modi, the vice-president of the BCCI, and is modeled along the lines of club football in Europe, specifically the English Premier League. Though there is a school of thought that the idea came about in the 1990s, the announcement that such a tournament would happen, and that it would be a precursor to Twenty20 Champions League, cricket's version of the European Champions League, came only after Subhash Chandra, the owner of Zee Televison said, in April 2007 - soon after India's exit from the World Cup - that he was intending to start an unofficial tournament called the Indian Cricket League, fuelling speculation that is was a reactive idea rather than a proactive one. The ICL has since fallen off, after failing to attract crowds and running into a host of off-field problems, but the IPL has gone from strength to strength to emerge as the most important Twenty20 league in the world.
Who owns the broadcast rights for the IPL?
In 2009, Multi Screen Media and World Sport Group have signed on as the official broadcast partners for the IPL. The nine-year deal, that runs through till 2017, is worth Rs 8,200 crore. The new agreement, gave Multi Screen Media the exclusive audio visual rights (in India) to all the 59 matches of the second edition of the IPL, and subsequent seasons. In 2010, ITV won the rights to telecast the IPL in UK free to air. The IPL broke new ground when it signed an unprecedented deal with Youtube, in the process by-passing the television channel and taking cricket to every single fan with an internet connection.
Has it all been smooth-sailing for the IPL?
Far from it. The IPL has been dogged by several off-field controversies. The first of them was the eleventh-hour shift to South Africa for the 2009 season, necessitated by the general elections in India, which meant that the IPL could not have adequate security systems. Pakistan players were not allowed to play in the second season, on account of the souring up of relations between India and Pakistan following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, in November 2008. Despite being cleared for the tournament in 2010, Pakistan's players were ignored by all the franchises for the third season. The IPL was also dogged by terror concerns, after an independent report in early 2010 said that the tournament ran the risk of terrorist attacks. Players associations, from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa threatened to boycott the tournament, before changing their minds. Meanwhile, political parties in Mumbai and Hyderabad threatened to disrupt games in the respective cities. The latter threats led to Deccan's matches being shifted out of Hyderabad to neutral venues. Despite all the controversies, the IPL has been a resounding success thanks to its ability to combine cricket and mainstream entertainment in unprecedented fashion.