Cricket, The IPL, and North American Audience

    HYDERABAD, INDIA - MAY 12: Shane Watson of the Chennai Super Kings bats during the Indian Premier League Final match between the the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Hyderabad, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

    Cricket is one of the oldest and most traditional sports in the world. But, over the last ten years, tradition has largely been replaced by a new and very different style of the game. Twenty-over cricket (or T20 short) has massively increased in popularity. Lasting just three hours on average, rather than five days, and dominated by explosively powerful batsmen, T20 cricket is fast becoming the defining format of the modern era, even if Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the game.

    Cricket, The IPL, and North American Audience

    The Indian Premier League Central to T20 Growth

    Central to the rise in popularity of T20 cricket has been the Indian Premier League (IPL). A franchise competition, the league is now estimated to be worth comfortably over $5 billion and is one of the most-watched sporting events in the world. The rewards for success in the IPL reflect this. Players are regularly signed for contracts in excess of $1 million to play in the two-month-long IPL. Unsurprisingly, that has attracted most of the world’s best players to the tournament.

    Every IPL team has a squad of up to 25 players, including eight overseas stars, who have the chance to perform on one of the biggest stages in cricket. Not only is the IPL watched by millions of fans in India, but it is also broadcast across the globe and, in the view of many, represents an even higher standard of T20 cricket than the international game. And, thanks to the introduction of two new franchises representing Lucknow and Gujarat, there should be even more entertainment in 2022.

    Every side had to rebuild their squad via the recently concluded IPL mega auction, with the pre-existing franchises allowed to retain only four players from their 2021 squads. Some teams, notably the defending champions Chennai Super Kings, did everything they could to bring back the core of their squad, whilst others, including Delhi Capitals, decided to rebuild pretty much from scratch. How the two new franchises’ squads will stack up is, of course, a complete unknown.

    The IPL and the Betting Picture

    That will make the betting picture even more interesting than usual ahead of this year’s IPL, which is set to get underway in early April. IPL betting tips currently place defending champions Chennai Super Kings as the pre-tournament favorites, with five-time former champions Mumbai Indians just behind and Delhi Capitals, who finished top of last season’s points table, also very much in the mix. Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans have also assembled very strong-looking squads on paper.

    2021 runners-up Kolkata Knight Riders cannot be discounted, whilst for the likes of Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, the mega auction offered the opportunity to reassess after disappointing campaigns. Neither side is likely to be entirely happy with their business, however, particularly Sunrisers who are looking slightly too reliant on Kane Williamson’s fitness. Punjab Kings, in contrast, bounced back impressively from the loss of their star man KL Rahul, who joined Lucknow.

    In reality though, with so many of the world’s best cricketers set to arrive in India for the forthcoming IPL, it is impossible to rule out any team’s chances completely. What is certain is that there will be plenty of thrilling cricket across the 74 matches of the 15th edition of the IPL. The return of the IPL to its home in India will also be more than welcome, with Indian cricket fans amongst the most passionate in the world.

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