Fast and Furious: Indian Premier League – Cricket’s Most Exhilarating Annual Event

Matthew Cotter

With the ever-exciting Indian Premier League (IPL) returning to action this week, here is a quick guide to the tournament and who to look out for when watching…

The Indian Premier League is a professional T20 Cricket Tournament established in 2008. T20 is the shortest format of Cricket, with each side only having 20 overs each to achieve a run total. The average game lasts around three hours, meaning it is by far the most accessible format of the game. The IPL consists of eight teams hailing from India’s major cities, who compete in a round-robin and later knockout style competition. Each side can field four international players at any given time, with the rest of the eleven being made of Indian talent.

Last year’s opening match was watched by an estimated 168,000 viewers […] higher than most English Premier League Football coverage in the same period

Somewhat secretly, the Indian Premier League is already one of the most popular sporting events for UK sports viewings. 2020’s tournament was the most successful regarding viewership in the UK. Last year’s opening match was watched by an estimated 168,000 viewers; this figure was higher than most English Premier League Football coverage in the same period. This level of engagement has led to London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressing his desire to bring an Indian Premier League game to England, in an NFL-style cross-over. 

Unlike other tournaments, in the IPL, every ball is likely to offer excitement. Batters seek to clear the boundary at any opportunity and bowlers look to outwit their opponent with their catalogue of variation. Blink, and you’re likely to miss something. The IPL is the perfect watch for any fan of high-action sports. 

The Teams:

Mumbai Indians – Mumbai won their first back-to-back IPL Championship last time around (securing a league-high five championships). No Englishmen, but talents such as India’s Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah mean they are still the likely favourites this year. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore – The Indians’ challengers on opening day, Indian captain Virat Kohli will once again seek to deliver his side’s first-ever IPL Championship. The only other team to not involve any Englishmen, after Moeen Ali moved to Chennai in this winter’s IPL Auction. 

Chennai Super Kings – Moeen Ali’s new team paid the Birmingham-born all-rounder around £700,000 for his services in this competition. Ali is joined by fellow England teammate Sam Curran, who was a standout performer for an underwhelming Super Kings side last time around. They were eliminated early on in last year’s tournament so will look to provide more of a challenge in 2021. 

Kolkata Knight Riders – Led by England captain Eoin Morgan, the Knight Riders were another team left disappointed after narrowly missing out on last year’s playoffs. Kolkata has a well-rounded squad with plenty of potential. If West Indian power-hitter Andre Russell can stay healthy, the Knight Riders are always a contender. 

Delhi’s most exciting player however is Risabh Pant, who showcased his talents during India’s recent destruction of England

Delhi Capitals – The runners-up of last year’s tournament; they are boosted by the return of England all-rounder Chris Woakes, who sat out last year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Delhi’s most exciting player however is Risabh Pant, who showcased his talents during India’s recent destruction of England. He leads the side as captain with Australia’s Steve Smith joining the ranks this winter. Expect Delhi to be right up there again. 

Punjab Kings – After an off-season name change from Kings XI Punjab, the side will be looking to cast aside last season’s troubles and start a new chapter. England’s Dawid Malan, the World’s Number 1 Ranked T20 Player, will play his maiden season in the IPL alongside Sussex bowler Chris Jordan. Punjab spent big this winter and will hope splashing the cash will pay off. 

Rajasthan Royals – For a casual English fan, here’s your team! England’s Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, and Liam Livingstone are all members of the Royals. After the woes of finishing last in 2020, the Royals will be hoping the English contingent of the squad will provide the spark to challenge once again. 

Sunrisers Hyderabad – After a late resurgence in the backend of last year, Sunrisers will likely lean on their international stars to replicate their performances. England’s Bairstow and Roy will compete with Australia’s David Warner and New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson in the batting line-up. The bowling is orchestrated by Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, who showcases mesmerising skill. 

Whoever you choose to support and whether you are an avid fan or just a casual watcher, the Indian Premier League is once again likely to bring many to the edge of their sofas with two months’ worth of nail-biting cricket! 

Matthew Cotter

Featured image used courtesy of Public.Resource.Org via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

In article image 1 courtesy of @mumbaiindians via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @rajasthanroyals via Instagram. No changes were made to this image. 

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