What is IPL in Cricket? – Introduction to the Indian Premier League Tournament

It’s the biggest domestic cricket tournament in the world, but what is IPL exactly and how much do we know about it?

What does IPL Stand for?

In cricket, IPL stands for Indian Premier League, a T20 cricket tournament which was originally established in 2008. It is traditionally played from April through to June each year and, from 2022, the competition will be expanded to include a total of ten teams.

Indian Premier League – The Tournament

1. Tournament Structure

The Indian Premier League starts with a round robin tournament where each franchise will play each other twice – home and away. Sides will earn two points for a win while the teams will earn one point each if there is an abandoned game.

At the end of this sequence, the top four sides in the table will progress to the playoffs while the remaining franchises will be eliminated.

The playoffs start with the first qualifier where the top two sides in the table play each other and the winner goes straight through to the final.

Next up is the eliminator where the third and fourth placed sides face off. The winner goes through to the second qualifier while the loser is eliminated.

In the second qualifier, the winner of the eliminator takes on the loser of the first playoff match. The winner of that game progresses to the final.

It sounds a little complicated on paper but it’s actually easy to follow and it’s a fairer system than having straight semi finals.

IPL cricket tournament

2. When Does IPL Start?

The exact starting dates of the IPL will vary from year to year but it will generally begin in the first week of April. The 2022 IPL starts on March 26th. The group stages kick off the competition and these progress through the month and into May.

The knockouts take over and the final will generally be scheduled for late May or early June. These dates are subject to change but this is the framework within which the tournament has worked for many years.

3. IPL Franchise Teams

From 2022 onwards, the IPL will consist of ten franchise teams. Those sides who played in 2021 will continue to be involved and they are:

  • Chennai Super Kings
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore
  • Delhi Capitals
  • Punjab Kings
  • Sunrisers Hyderabad
  • Mumbai Indians
  • Rajasthan Royals
  • Kolkata Knight Riders

In addition, two new franchises will be joining to make ten teams overall. They will be based in Lucknow and Ahmedabad but the names of the sides have yet to be confirmed as of November 2021.


4. Player Auction

The build up to every tournament involves a player auction. Those cricketers who want to be involved in the IPL will make themselves available for selection via the auction and the franchises will bid for their services.

The players involved will set a base price which is effectively a reserve figure. Any team wanting to sign the player must make that base price their minimum bid. 

At the end of the auction, squads are assembled ahead of the new season. Of course, there are options to bring in replacements for players who become injured or are forced to withdraw for any other reason.

Before that auction begins, the franchises submit a retained list. These are the existing players in the squad who will remain with the team for the new season. Other players will be released if they are no longer needed and they then have the option to go into the auction.

Find out more about how the IPL Auction works in 2023.

5. IPL Match Rules

The format of the IPL follows the rules of T20 cricket. Both teams are allocated a maximum of 20 overs each and the simple aim is to score more runs than the opposition. 

T20 is identical to ODI cricket in the sense that the side batting first sets a target. The fielding side then take their turn to bat and they must overtake that total within their allocated set of overs.

If the side batting second fail to overtake the target, the side batting first wins.

Bowling teams can use as many bowlers as they want but each bowler can deliver a maximum of four overs.

If the scores are tied at the end of the game, there will be a Super Over to decide the winner. One six-ball over will be sent down to each team and the batting sides have two wickets available. If the scores remain level, the Super Over process will be repeated until we have a winner.