IPL 4 – New Format is here…

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.

IPL 4 – No.of matches to be reduced

Finally some sense is prevailing with respect to IPL. With the increase of teams from 8 to 10, it was expected that with the home and away format there would be 18 matches for each franchise and thus 90 league matches plus 2 semis and final and 3rd place thus making it 94 matches for the 4th season of IPL, to be played in April-May 2011.

94 matches would have been a bit too much with IPL season going almost 6-7 weeks and in the month of May in India, with the hot weather,  it would have been deadly for the players involved. Of course the team franchises wanted the format to remain that way as more the matches, more the revenue for them, more advertising money, more stadium receipts, more television money. Some players were against it but did not speak much in the press for the fear of backlash from the franchises, after all the big auction is coming up in October 2010. Of course ex-IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was all for more matches. Now that Lalit Modi is absconding and no longer relevant, the governing council is taking wiser steps.

The governing council is meeting on August 20 to decide upon all these issues. The format would be revised to have 5 teams in each group who would play each other on home-away basis thus making 40 matches and thenthey would play 1 match with teams from other group, thus making 25 matches and totaling 65 matches for the league stage. Add 4 more matches and it would be 69 matches totally with each team playing 13 to 15 matches maximum.

There are chances that there would be a cap on no. of matches each Individual player, especially International players,  would be allowed to play and would be limited to 12, but this is yet to be confirmed. Also on the cards are auction related rules which are not yet final and would be decided only after the Champions league matches in September 2010.

Lets hope IPL emerges as a strong brand after all the controversies in the previous season and we have a great tournament.

IPL 4 – Players to Retain

Now that IPL 3 is done and over with, atleast on field, all the player and team contracts signed before the first IPL are null and void and fresh new contracts need to be signed for every player, coach, other team members etc.

The Mega auction featuring all free agent players, new players for all 10 teams will be held in the month of October after the Champions League tournament in South Africa however the existing 8 franchises will be allowed to retain certain no. of players ( 4 Indians and 3 Non-Indians) as they form the core of the team and they have built their brand around them.

Here’s my view of the players the franchises would like to retain with them. Of course the players would have their own say and might not want to be retained , hoping for a better value in the open auction.

Beginning with IPL 3 Champions –  Chennai SuperKings – They have built their brand around M S Dhoni and they would love to have him, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay ( the find of the season) and perhaps S Badrinath as their 4 Indian players. They can even go for R Ashwin but I think Ashwin would fetch a better price in the auction. As their overseas players they would retain Hayden if he is willing to come back or Hussey if Hayden is not available and Muralidharan for sure. Their major overseas players Jacob Oram and Flintoff were not available this year and knowing their fitness woes one can never tell if they would be available next season or not. They also might want to retain Doug Bollinger but the auction suits him more.

Brand Mumbai Indians and Sachin Tendulkar goes hand in hand and the team is not the same without their brand icon. The would also do well to retain Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan but either of them can be lured by one of the new team with the added bonus of Captaincy. Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayadu and Sathish along with Shikhar Dhawan are the 3 consistent domestic performers for the team but all of them would fetch a much bigger price then their current price in the auction and I doubt if they can be persuaded to stay back. From the overseas department MI would not let Keiron Pollard go and perhaps Dwayne Bravo too.  Lasith Malinga is someone whom they would love to keep as long as he is fit enough to bowl those deadly yorkers.

Bangalore Royal Challengers would be inclined to stick upto Kumble, Dravid ( if he is willing to continue) and perhaps Uthappa and Manish Pandey, however the new franchises might be eying them with a truckload of money. Virat Kohli, Vinay Kumar also performed decently and Vinay Kumar might be retained if he increases his brand value with good performance for Team India. Kohli would sure like a shot at another time which would give him more to do. Kaalis and Peterson become their automatic Overseas choice and perhaps they would retain someone like Ross Taylor although he did underperform this year. Eoin Morgan and Cameron White were under utilized and perhaps they would do better with another team.

Deccan Chargers are hoping that Adam Gilchrist returns and so does Andrew Symonds. Amongst the Indian players they would certainly want Rohit Sharma and Pragyan Ojha to stay back. V V S Laxman is a mystery as on current form he needs to let go the T-20 format but no one represents Hyderabad more than Laxman. They might also want someone like T Suman and  R .P. Singh around. Amongst the other overseas players Ryan Harris is a nice fit in the team, however his stock is rising in the current Australian setup and he might feel he would command a better auction price. Dwyane Smith was underutlised and he maybe headed the auction way and as far as Chaminda Vaas and Gibbs are concerned , the road is more or less over for them, as far as IPL goes.

Delhi Daredevils is a team full of resources they would love to keep back.  Veeru and Gauti are automatic choices and so are players like Dinesh Karthik and Amit Mishra. They might let go Ashish Nehra. In the overseas department they have resources like David Warner, Dilshan, Mahraroof and Dirk Nannes, not to forget A B Deviliers, Paul Collingwood and Daniel Vettori. They would certainly like to retain one of Warner or Dilshan and certainly Dirk Nannes. A B Devilliers didnt play much of second half this year and neither did Vettori. Collingwood looks well settled to be retained.

Rajasthan Royals have a bit of trouble. Unless their Mega star Shane Warne returns they do not have any major International players in he team barring except Graeme Smith who would then lead the side. They would also retain Shane Watson. Amnogst the Indian players Yusuf Pathan is a certainty to be retained and so are players like Naman Ojha and Siddharth Trivedi. Apart from the 2 new franchises this team needs to buy some big international and local players to make it a real competitive team.

Kolkata Knightriders have too many good under utilized resources. Amongst the Indian players they would retain Ganguly unless Ganguly makes the correct decision of not playing the next year. Manoj Tiwary is certain to be retained as the local flavour and perhaps they would do right to retain Murali Kartik as well. Ishant Sharma had a lousy season but then most of KKR players had that.  Chris Gayle and Brendom Mccullum are 2 hot favorites to be retained and they also have quality players like David Hussey, Shane Bond, Angelo Matthews and Ajanta Mendis to choose from. It depends on whom the team owners and Ganguly prefer to stay around, also the players should be willing to stay with KKR.

Kings XI Punjab are certainly not the team they turned out to be in this IPL. They are far better than their 8th position suggests. Unless Yuvraj Singh has other plans he would and should be retained by the franchise. Irfan Pathan is too good a talent not to be retained however if he improves a bit, he has fare better chances in the auction as an allrounder. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayavardane are sure to return and perhaps Brett Lee too will give it a last shot. Ravi Bopara and Shaun Marsh are 2 good talents and perhaps the team would retain 1 of them. Piyush Chawala would fill up one of the domestic spot.

Apart from above, I might have missed out on some obvious names and would have named some players who would obviously be dropped for reasons I do not know yet.  The mega auction in October would be real treat to follow.

Meanwhile, the 9th IPL Team and the costliest one owned by Sahara for Pune City has announced its name as Sahara Pune Warriors and they have already chalked up plans to grab and lure major stars both in auction and pre-auction.  There is also a major battle going on between the ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi and BCCI and we never know what new rules might come out for auction and whether existing franchises will be allowed to retain 7 players or more or less.

Lets see how the action unfolds in the time to come.