The Indian Premier League (IPL) has established itself as one of the biggest sporting events globally, not just in cricket. The media rights deal, worth nearly Rs 50,000 crore, is proof of the tournament’s growth and popularity. The IPL has become one of the most anticipated annual cricket events.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic presented a significant challenge, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did an excellent job of hosting the IPL. However, the absence of fans in the UAE took away from the vibrant atmosphere that the world’s biggest T20 league has built over the years.
The IPL has created a theatre-like atmosphere, and the empty stands made people miss it. Fans could not greet team buses on the streets, and practice sessions drew more significant crowds than Test matches, which is a sad reality.
Outstation superstars struggled to connect with the local crowd and flavour during the IPL due to the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the league to either be shifted out of the country .
The IPL has returned to its celebrated home-and-away format for the first time since 2019, and the rush for ticket sales is back.
Star cricketers are going to have a hectic 8 weeks in the T20 carnival, but they would rather get appreciation and applause from packed stands over staring at their hotel room walls in restricted environments and playing in front of empty seats, even if it means enduring relentless travel over the summer in India.
The Dhoni Factor
In 2022, 41-year-old Dhoni explained his decision to prolong his IPL career by another year, saying that it would be ‘unfair’ if he didn’t thank the fans for their support before bidding goodbye to the IPL.
“It’s a simple reason. I want to play in Chennai and say thank you. Mumbai is one place where I have received a lot of love and affection, both as a team and as an individual. But, it won’t be nice to the CSK fans if I don’t play for them,” he told Ian Bishop.
“And also, hopefully, next year the teams will get an opportunity to travel, so we can thank all the different places where we will be playing games at different venues.”