IPL 2022 will begin on March 26 with the final set to be played on May 29. The schedule was drawn up on Thursday by the IPL Governing Council, who also decided that the league phase of the tournament would be restricted to just two cities: Mumbai and Pune. Four venues - the Wankhede Stadium and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai, and the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje, in the outskirts of Pune - will host the league phase featuring 70 matches.
As for the playoffs, which will feature four matches, the IPL has decided to keep its venue options open for now. A final decision on that, the Governing Council decided, would be taken later based on the Covid-19 pandemic situation in India in April-May.
The Governing Council also decided to keep open the option of allowing crowds to attend the matches, subject to permission from the Maharashtra government.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that the IPL will finalise and share the tournament schedule by the first week of March. The IPL this time will be a 10-team tournament with the addition of two new franchises - Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans - last October. At a meeting on January 22, all 10 franchises had unanimously backed the IPL's first option of conducting the tournament in India.
The franchises had also favoured limiting the tournament to just one venue - Mumbai - after the debacle in the 2021 season, which had to be postponed at the halfway stage when the second wave of Covid-19 that was sweeping across India breached the IPL bubble. In an internal review, the IPL concluded that teams travelling between multiple cities had been one cause for positive cases within teams in the first half of the 2021 edition. The tournament resumed in September-October, with the second leg played in the UAE - which had staged the entirety of IPL 2020.
As for the format during the league phase, it could not be confirmed whether the IPL will follow the 2011 concept, the first time the tournament featured 10 teams. In the 2011 edition, the 10 teams were split into two loose groups, and the tournament comprised 70 league matches and four play-off games, with all the teams ranked in one composite league table. During the league phase, every team played the same number of league matches, which was 14.
Each team played the other four in their group both home and away (eight matches), four of the teams in the other group once each (four matches, either home or away), and the remaining team in the other group twice, both home and away. A random draw decided the composition of the groups as well as who played whom across the groups once and twice.
Women's T20 Challenge likely to return
The Governing Council also backed the idea of bringing back the Women's T20 Challenge
, which last took place in 2020. The format is likely to be same as in the 2020 edition, in which three teams - Supernovas, Velocity and Trailblazers - played a total of four matches including the final. The Women's T20 Challenge usually takes place during the IPL's playoffs week. No firm decision has yet been taken on whether the women's tournament will take place at a separate venue - as in 2020 - from the IPL play-offs.
Having begun as a tournament to provide exposure to Indian women players as well as unearthing untapped talent - an example being the India batter Shafali Verma - the T20 challenge has grown significantly. In 2020 the BCCI said the T20 Challenge was "financially independent", with Jio appointed as the first-ever title sponsor. Despite being played in Sharjah and away from the IPL playoff venues, the 2020 edition of the tournament attracted record viewership
The tournament will still have to wait before it expands to become a fully fledged Women's IPL, however, with BCCI president Sourav Ganguly saying recently that the board was at the level of "formulation"
to launch it in 2023.