NEW DELHI, April 4, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – The 10th season of the Indian Premier League starts Wednesday, marking a decade of scandal and success for the flashy Twenty20 competition beloved by India and watched across the globe.
The latest edition of the glitzy league — famous for its pyrotechnics, cheerleaders and huge signing bonuses — gets under way with defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad hosting Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Since its debut in 2008 the shorter-format league has evolved into India’s most popular sporting event, filling stadiums and attracting TV audiences well beyond that enjoyed by Test and one-day competitions in the cricket-mad subcontinent.
“Its unique selling proposition is that most of the stadiums are packed, and it is being watched around the world,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told AFP.
Its appeal has outlasted numerous controversies — most notably corruption and match-fixing charges — that at times have raised more eyebrows than the showy theatrics on the pitch.
Three of the eight teams from the inaugural edition, and two others since, have been taken over by new owners, suspended or simply vanished altogether.
Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were barred for two seasons in 2015 over a spot-fixing saga, while Hyderabad’s original franchise Deccan Chargers were terminated for breaching contract terms.
The league’s founder Lalit Modi, meanwhile, is in self-imposed exile in Britain, refusing to return to India to face corruption charges.