So finally we have new format for the next 3 IPLs at least beginning from 2011. IPL governing council has done away with all teams playing each other home and away and have come up with a composite format which is a combination of home-away matches along with division of teams into groups and a slightly complex playoff formula.
There are 10 teams now, there would be 2 groups of 5 each. Teams in same group would play each other on home-away basis. The teams would also play other 5 teams from the 2nd group on either home or away basis and would play an additional game against 1 of the team from 2nd group. Thus each team would get to play 14 games, 7 at home and 7 away. The groups and the schedules would be decided by a random draw. These would lead to 70 games of group stages. This will be followed by 4 Playoff games deciding the winner. The top 2 teams from group stage would play in the 1st semi final. The 3rd and 4th team from the group stage would play in a knockout match. The winner of this knockout match and the loser of 1st semi final would play the 2nd semi final. The winners of 2 semi finals would then play the big final. Thus there would be 74 games in total. This format gives lot more importance of qualifying higher i.e. in top 2 in the group stage. The top 3 teams of course also qualify for the Champions League.
The teams would also retain upto 4 players from their existing squad and can retain maximum 2 foreign players. The teams also have salary cap for the entire squad of 30 and have newly defined catchment area for Indian domestic talent. Also the Indian domestic players have salaries predefined based on their experience.
Thus IPL’s new format looks complex to begin with but satisfies everybody. The franchises get at least 14 games. There are totally 74 games so squeezing the entire tournament within 6 weeks is feasible. The no. of matches remaining almost the same as earlier seasons also means similar revenues for broadcasters and same exposure to advertisers. The random draw for groups and home and away matches would make it more exciting. The group stages match would be more important.
The complex playoff format is being tried for the first time in IPL but has been already tried successfully in New Zealand domestic cricket.