Indian Premier League (IPL) is arguably the top franchise T20 tournament in the world with an enormous fan following all over the world.
One of the main reasons for its enormous popularity is the star power that the league attracts, with a plethora of international and domestic cricketers participating in the tournament. The IPL has become a showcase for some of the world’s best players.
Over the years, the IPL has seen some of the biggest names in cricket compete in the league. From India’s legendary cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, and Virat Kohli, to international stars like Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, the IPL has never been short of star power.
With the league’s ever-increasing popularity and stature in world cricket, the IPL has taken over a majority chunk of the cricketing calendar year. But, despite its star power and immense popularity, IPL tends to fall flat during the middle phase of the tournament.
Let’s have a look at a few reasons why IPL gets boring during the middle phase:
The first season of the IPL commenced in 2008 with 8 teams from across India taking part in the tournament. The tournament had a total of 59 matches, which were held over a duration of 1.5 months.
15 years later, the IPL includes 10 teams from across the country and includes 74 matches, held over a period of two months. This window is expected to increase even further with a two-and-a-half-month period set to be allocated for the tournament.
While the opening few games and the playoffs of the tournament tends to attract interest from fans around the globe, the middle phase, which includes league-stage matches, tends to linger on and feel kind of repetitive. The stretched scheduling of the tournament becomes monotonous to follow and with little on the line during the middle phase, the tournament loses its charm.
During the initial seasons of the IPL, the tournament included a round-robin format, where each team played against each other twice. The top four sides of the tournament moved on to the next round where they faced off in the playoffs.
Over the past two seasons, the format of the tournament has changed which has led to a lot of confusion for the casual fans of the competition.
According to the new format, the 10 teams are split into two groups, each comprising five teams. Every team is scheduled to play seven matches at their home venue and seven matches away. Furthermore, each team will face all the teams in the opposite group twice, once at their home venue and once at the opponent’s home venue.
All the while, all the teams are included in a single league table. This not only causes confusion but also deprives the fans to see all teams play against each other.
Single round-robin format with playoffs keeps the fans on the edge of their seats, with a clear goal of finishing within the first four spots in the points table.
Over the course of fifteen seasons, the IPL has witnessed only seven teams winning the competition at least once. Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have been the teams to beat in the competition with five and four titles respectively.
Over the past few seasons, IPL has found itself in a bit of trouble with a clear gap between the good teams and the average teams. This has been a problem for IPL’s competitors, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) as well, with four teams clearly outperforming the bottom two teams in the competition. This brings down the level of competition within a tournament and as a result, fans lose interest as the same teams qualify for the playoffs every season.
Similarly, IPL is witnessing the same issues over the past few seasons with a clear gap between the top sides and the bottom sides. The likes of Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Punjab Kings fail to deliver on the big stage more often than not in recent years. In contrast, Chennai Super Kings, Gujarat Titans, and Lucknow Super Giants have shown consistency in the league over the past two seasons.
If the teams keep on making the same mistakes then the fans will start to lose interest midway through the tournament. They will tune in for the initial phase and the playoffs phase of the competition as they will already be familiar with the pattern and performances of certain teams.
What do you think? Has IPL’s popularity diminished during the middle phase? Write down your comments below!