Indian Premier League, Season One - A page from history
With the arrival of the Twenty20 format, cricket as we knew it, changed forever. Gone were the days when fans had to spend a whole day at best (not to mention five when it comes to Test cricket) in order to enjoy a game of cricket.
Whilst the most popular sport in the world, football, had matches lasting 90 minutes each, a cricket game took far too long to hold interest and viewership in the fast-paced life today. However, with the inception of the Twenty20 format, the game was reinvigorated
- and then there was the Indian Premier League, the hallmark of cricket’s 'entertainment' today.
However, predating the Indian Premier League, there was the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which ran between 2007, before becoming defunct in 2009. The Indian Cricket League was a private affair, unlike the IPL which is backed by the Board for Control of Cricket
in India, and was funded by Zee Entertainment. However, the League was refused recognition by the BCCI, which saw it as a threat in several ways. The BCCI responded by sacking India's own World Cup winning skipper, Kapil Dev, from the chairmanship of the National
Cricket Academy, for his involvement in what they termed the 'rogue league'.
The BCCI, in a bid to counter the ICL, initiated their own, Indian Premier League, which saw ample funding, coupled with glitz and glamour. Faced with a powerful body like BCCI, and sanctions from the International Cricket Council, the Indian Cricket League
had no chance, and eventually sunk in 2009. The IPL however, still stands tall today, and is currently in its 5th edition.
Beginning back in 2008, the IPL found its biggest sponsor in DLF Universal, real estate developers, who bought rights to the title for a period of five years, at the cost of Rs.200 crores. After Sony Television network and World Sports Group in Singapore
acquired the television rights for over $1 Billion, a player auction saw 77 cricketers being contracted, with India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni being the highest paid of them all.
The first season of the IPL kicked off on April 18, 2008, and had eight participants - Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians.
The Rajasthan Royals, led by Australian veteran Shane Warne, were the eventual winners of the tournament, after defeating Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in the final match, played on June 1, 2008, at Mumbai. While the Royals topped the chart
with 11 wins from 14 matches, Yuvraj Singh's Kings XI Punjab were second on the table with 10 wins. These were then followed by Chennai Super Kings (8), Sehwag's Delhi Daredevils (7), Sachin's Mumbai Indians (7), Kolkata Knight Riders (6), Dravid-led Royal
Challengers Bangalore (4) and Deccan Chargers (2).
King XI Punjab's Shaun Marsh was the highest scorer of the inaugural edition with 616 runs, followed by Delhi's Gautam Gambhir (534), Mumbai's Sanath Jayasuriya (514), Rajasthan's Shane Watson (472) and his South African teammate, Graeme Smith (441).
On the bowling front, Pakistan's unorthodox pacer, Sohail Tanvir was the show stopper with 22 wickets, followed by his skipper, Shane Warne (19), Punjab's Sreesanth (19), Rajasthan's Watson (17) and Chennai's Manpreet Gony (17).
Proving to be a huge success, the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League set high standards for itself, and other countries vying to launch similar projects. Today, the IPL is in its 5th season, with whole sale changes in squads, and more innovations.
Rivaling the Indian League, there are tournaments such as Australia's Big Bash, the Bangladesh Premier League and the under consideration Pakistan Premier League.
It is believed by many, that Twenty20 cricket is the future of the game - like Australian wicketkeeper batsman, Adam Gilchrist remarked to
The Australian back in 2008, “The great discussion at the moment is whether we carve out a window for the IPL. I envisage that, potentially, within ten years it could be more a case of trying to carve out a window for international cricket as this
format becomes more of a staple diet."