This year’s edition — spread over 51 days and comprising 74 matches across 13 venues — will be the first after the ousting of its outspoken founder Lalit Modi, who was forced out last year under a cloud of corruption allegations.
The tournament’s future had looked in doubt amid claims of corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams’ real owners and even links to India’s criminal underworld.
But a massive PR exercise by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has ensured the IPL has kept its date with fans, as well as sponsors and advertisers hungry for their share of the huge commercial pie.
IPL chief executive Sundar Raman dismissed fears that cricket fans in India, still recovering from celebrations after Saturday’s victory over Sri Lanka in the World Cup final, could suffer sporting overload.
“The success of the Indian team in the World Cup has made it (IPL) more interesting,” Raman told AFP, saying the tournament would “carry on from where the World Cup ended”.
“Fans are already into cricket and celebrating India’s victory. We are confident of building on the success of the last edition.”
This year’s IPL, the fourth time it has been held, will have two new teams in Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors, taking the total number of franchises to 10.
The opening game will feature Chennai Super Kings, led by victorious Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and the Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
The IPL revolutionised the sport when it burst onto the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, scantily-clad cheerleaders and Bollywood glamour.
Using the short Twenty20 form of the game, IPL matches are usually three-hour events packed with music, delirious crowds and countless television advertisements.
Everything from the time-out to the drinks break is sponsored by companies, earning Indian cricket authorities millions in revenue.
The fourth edition is likely to see IPL bosses reduce the decadent post-match parties, which were blamed by some for India’s failure in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last year.
The much-discussed cheerleader jobs — all taken by Western women in previous editions — might be given to locals who will don traditional Indian outfits in place of barely-there miniskirts, local media reports say.