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Rockstars of the Pitch: IPL History in a Nutshell and How to Watch in 2024 on Sling TV

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Over the last 15 years, the IPL has faced its fair share of obstacles and controversies, but its popularity continues to soar. A history of the IPL could fill a book or an entire website (no doubt it already does). So in this article, we’ll just take a quick jaunt through IPL history, from skeptical beginnings to cultural juggernaut. Plus, we’ll let you in on how you can watch IPL history being made on Sling TV.

In a hurry? Watch all 70 regular season fixtures plus the playoffs on Willow TV — just $5/mo through Sling TV.

The Indian Premier League, or IPL, has become a global phenomenon since its founding in 2008. What started as a bold experiment in cricket entertainment has grown into one of the most lucrative and widely watched T20 leagues in the world, attracting top talent from all corners of the cricketing universe.

Let’s dive right in with a little background on cricket itself. If you’re already familiar with cricket, you can skip to the IPL stuff with “Formation and Early Years.”

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Cricket History 101

If you’re new to watching cricket, you’ll need some background. Cricket was first played between England and Australia in 1877, in its first format, Test cricket. Test cricket matches are played over five days, six hours each day. If you have a notion of cricket as a long, boring slog, it’s probably because of Test cricket.

One-Day International (or ODI) were introduced in 1971 as a shorter form that could be played in a single day, but games still take about seven hours, on average.

Which brings us to the youngest and hippest form of cricket, the Twenty20, or T20 for short, which debuted in 2003, but by 2007, was still regarded with suspicion and disapproval by old-guard cricket enthusiasts. T20 features only 20 overs, or rounds, played over a single inning, about three hours.

The same reasons T20 evolved as a form were the same reasons it was distrusted: it was more focused on entertainment than sportsmanship and strategy, designed as a shorter, faster-paced game that would appeal to a wider and younger audience.

Enter the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the upstart, unsanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL) in 2007.

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Formation and Early Years

When the ICL was privately formed in 2007, the threat to the BCCI’s monopoly on cricket in India ticked them off more than the T20 format. They labeled the ICL a “rebel league,” banned anyone who dared play for them, and introduced their own T20 league, the IPL. The ICL called it quits in 2009.

Eight teams were auctioned off initially, largely to various corporate entities, and were established in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mohali, and Mumbai. They would be named:

  • Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
  • Delhi Daredevils (DD)
  • Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
  • Mumbai Indians (MI)
  • Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)
  • Rajasthan Royals (RR)
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
  • Deccan Chargers (DC)

Rise to Stardom

Corporate money from major investors gave the new league a shot of adrenaline. From the very beginning, the league could make serious bids for top cricket talent around the world.

The IPL also spared no expense on the entertainment side of the sport, with celebrity musical artists performing at the opening and closing ceremonies, cheerleaders revving the crowd up during IPL matches, and fireworks set off for wickets or sixes.

The more dynamic, shorter T20 matches themselves were also welcomed by folks who just didn’t have time for a seven-hour game.

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Bumps on the Road

The journey to global phenomenon has not been without its rough spots.

Defunct Teams

In 2011, heady with their initial success, the IPL introduced two additional teams: the Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) and Pune Warriors India (PWI). KTK folded after just one season because of ownership structure issues, while PWI managed to stick it out two seasons before also going under due to crappy players and cash-flow problems.

Meanwhile, in 2012, the BCCI terminated the Deccan Chargers for failing to pay the bills. A new Hyderabad team was established for the 2013 season, the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).

Spot-Fixing Scandal of 2013

In 2013, three players from the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings team official (similar to a manager of an American ball team) were arrested for spot-fixing, or interfering with the game for betting purposes. The four individuals directly involved were given lifetime bans, and the two IPL teams were suspended from the league for two seasons.

This scandal rocked the cricketing world and tanked the reputation of the IPL and Indian cricket — Americans could compare it to the doping scandals in American sports. The BCCI has since implemented stricter regulations and oversight.

Two teams were formed as temporary replacements for the suspended teams: the Gujarat Lions (GL) and Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS). They were both dissolved after the 2017 IPL season, and CSK, led by MS Dhoni, came roaring back with a title win in 2018.

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IPL Today

The IPL continues to show its resiliency and success in the caliber of its players, the crowds it consistently attracts, and the money rolling in.

In 2019, the Delhi Daredevils changed their name to the Delhi Capitals (DC), and the Kings XI Punjab likewise changed theirs to Punjab Kings (PJBK) in 2021.

Starting with the IPL 2022 season, the league decided to expand to ten teams again, introducing the Ahmedabad-based Gujarat Titans (GT) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). GT in particular has been a huge success, winning the IPL title their first time out the gate, and are the current reigning champs.

The current ten teams and their captains are as follows:

  • Chennai Super Kings – MS Dhoni
  • Delhi Capitals – David Warner
  • Gujarat Titans – Hardik Pandya
  • Kolkata Knight Riders – Nitish Rana
  • Lucknow Super Giants – KL Rahul
  • Mumbai Indians – Rohit Sharma
  • Punjab Kings – Shikhar Dhawan
  • Rajasthan Royals – Sanju Samson
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore – Faf du Plessis
  • Sunrisers Hyderabad – Aiden Markram

Awards and Records in IPL History

Pictured at the top of this article are the two of the biggest standouts, batsman Virat Kohli and bowler Dwayne Bravo. Kohli, with 6,957 runs, holds the record for the most runs overall in IPL history, though Australian Chris Gayle (RCB and KXIP) holds several individual scoring records, including highest-individual score in a match, 175 runs off 66 balls.

Since the honors for IPL 2023 won’t be finalized until the season is over, we’ve got some honorees from 2022. Jos Buttler of the Rajasthan Royals is the most recent recipient of the Orange Cap, which goes to the top run-scorer of the season. Buttler also won Most Valuable Player and the Maximum Sixes Award. Yuzvendra Chahal, also RR, wears the Purple Cap for most wickets taken. And RR took the Fair Play Award.

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How To Watch

Watching the IPL in the US is easy and cheap. Just sign up for Willow TV through Sling TV and you can watch tons of cricket — including all the IPL games — for just $5/mo. You don’t even have to sign up for a Sling TV plan — but we highly recommend it!

Wrapping Up

As a league, the IPL is just getting started, and it’s attracting a brand-new generation to cricket, while getting the attention of the whole world. Check it out for yourself on Sling TV!

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Other Cricket Guides

Featured photo: Virat Kohli (left) and Dwayne Bravo, hold the records for the most runs and the most wickets taken, respectively. Edited from originals: Virat Kohli at 2015 IPL Opening by Bollywood Hungama under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons and Dwayne Bravo at IIFA 2017 by Laura Lee Dooley under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

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Alanna Baker
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