Harsha named his India XI of the 15th season.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the 10-team Indian Premier League (IPL) for the ongoing season with much fanfare. However, with the league stage almost coming to an end, the feedback has not been all that great. The ratings, an indicator of the popularity of any sporting tournament, have fallen rather significantly for the IPL 2022 edition. According to some estimates, the T20 league has seen a sharp 33 percent decline in TV ratings and a 14 percent drop in its viewers. The first eight matches of the IPL 2022 scored a TVR of 2.52 as compared to 3.73 in the last season. The poor ratings beg the big question – did BCCI err in expanding the tournament from eight to 10 teams?

Additional teams plus mega auction a massive blunder

Analyzing the decision in hindsight, BCCI’s decision to expand the tournament to 10 teams as well as go in for a mega auction dealt a double blow to the popularity of the T20 league for this season. Speaking about the mega auction first, all the old franchises had to release their players and were allowed to retain only four cricketers. This was particularly unfair to teams like the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Mumbai Indians (MI), the league’s two most successful franchises. Both CSK and MI had built and nurtured a team for over a decade and had almost the same players turning out year after year. This explains why they had nine titles between them (MI five and CSK four) ahead of the IPL 2022 edition.

Both Mumbai and Chennai failed to rebuild their sides efficiently at the mega auction. The results showed in their performances, as they, rather shockingly, became the first two teams to be knocked out of the IPL 2022 playoffs race. Now, this has proved to be a massive setback for a tournament. Owing to their immense popularity, MI and CSK, undoubtedly, have the biggest fan bases of all sides. And why not when you have Rohit Sharma leading one team and MS Dhoni the other? Clearly, fans have been unable to digest the failures of the two legendary franchises. Yes, the Gujarat Titans (GT) and the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) have done exceedingly well in their debut season. But it will take some time for the two franchises to build a loyal fan base as they have only just entered the T20 league. 

How much is too much?

By the time IPL 2022 comes to an end, as per the originally decided schedule, a total of 74 matches would have been played across 65 days. The tournament began with a rematch of the IPL 2021 final between CSK and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on March 26. It will end with the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on May 29. 60 matches were played last season, divided across two halves due to the COVID-19 halt. But this non-stop action day-after-day for an extended duration is bound to have a fatigue factor for fans, no matter how big a fan of cricket they are.

Consider this. The T20 World Cup 2021 had 45 matches, including the qualifiers. It began on October 17 and ended on November 14, inside a month. Of course, the format of the IPL is completely different as each side has to play 14 matches. But considering the dip in popularity this season due to multiple reasons, the BCCI think tank will need to sit together and discuss the expansion format. According to some reports, the IPL might even expand to 12 teams over the next few years. However, IPL 2022 has made it clear that more teams doesn’t mean more popularity. In fact, the quality of the tournament has only been diluted. BCCI needs to take a strategic timeout and rethink their IPL strategy!

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