The IPL caravan is losing its charm, deal with it!

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The 15th edition of the Indian Premier League saw a steep decline in terms of television viewership, as well as the fans' excitement. Besides, the ordinary outings from some of the superstars of Indian cricket, such as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, did not help its good old days back either.

Way back in 2008, when Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the smallest playing budget, it was a victory over economic determinism. The result proved that in the T20 format, the monsters could be tamed because of being ill-suited.

But from there on, data has come into play to identify the patterns that can lead to a franchise making better decisions on the pitch. So far, Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have enjoyed the most and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to some extent, but the others have seen little success.

Cricketers, the Indian ones in particular, have been the most influential characters across the country, alongside film stars and politicians. MS Dhoni, arguably the most talked-about name among the present bunch of players, has captivated world cricket with his incredible ingenuity. Virat Kohli, a batting genius, has evolved himself into a superhero over the years by constantly working on his weaknesses. And Rohit Sharma, Mumbai’s beloved son, has earned India’s captaincy across all formats with his impeccable success as a leader in IPL.

Believe it or not, this is the fact that these three have been largely running the show ever since the lucrative cash-rich league began. But now, in 2022, the scenario has started getting to be different.  

Dhoni will be turning 41 next month, and realistically, at this point, one should not expect him to turn back the clock more often than not in IPL. In fact, when he batted in the UAE last year in IPL, it seemed like he was unable to get the timing right far too often. For such cases, age does come into the equation.

In 2022, Dhoni did play a few breezy cameos, which included a couple of match-defining knocks. But in all (232 runs at a strike rate of 123.4), it was definitely not his best campaign. 

For Virat, nothing seems to be working ever since the pandemic came into the world, in 2020. He has been failing to strike the chord for a while now, and all his favourite destinations have started to look like graveyards to him. In IPL 2022, his 341 runs in 16 games, coming at less than 116 tells the entire story around him.

Rohit, the last but definitely not the least, had an even more forgettable IPL campaign this year. Under his leadership, Mumbai Indians finished at the bottom of the points table, and his tally of 268 runs at 120.18 is his worst across 15 editions. When the captain fails to step up, the ship automatically begins to sink, at least on almost every occasion.

Apart from the failures from the ‘big three’, there were a few other reasons as well which did not allow the BCCI to get more resounding success in IPL 2022 as they would have assumed. The two blockbuster names of T20 cricket – Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers – did not participate in the tournament this year. Though the iconic duo has hinted to make returns in IPL 2023, their respective roles are yet to be decided. 

With two new franchises, IPL 2022 had a marathon of 74 matches across just over two months. Only the breadwinners, who are associated with cricket journalism and probably with illegal betting, might have watched each and every contest. The rest, of course, had no energy left in the tank to enjoy the most popular T20 league in the world.

As per the latest numbers from BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council), the IPL is losing television viewership drastically. Among the ones who are 15-21 years young, the viewership has reduced to almost 40 per cent in IPL 2022 than last year. It is alarming, without any doubt.

There may be a justification from the BCCI regarding the decline of viewership in IPL 2022. Last year, many had worked from home due to Covid-19 concerns and had opportunities to stay in their living room to watch matches. But this year, with many organisations bringing their employees back into the office, the numbers got reduced.

Well, if that is the case, the question arrives how many are there in India working in the public or private sector in the 15-21 years age group?

Another major reason behind the lack of enthusiasm around IPL 2022 was fewer host venues. League matches were played at only four stadiums across two cities (Mumbai and Pune), while Kolkata and Ahmedabad hosted the Playoff games. Surely, despite having a mega auction ahead of the season, it lost its familiar charm due to that.

Safe to say, there are still stark differences in terms of popularity between the trio – Dhoni, Kohli, and Rohit – and the other present cricketers. There might be a few in the future who will match their fame, but it will take time, for sure. And this longevity does not help to keep things as attractive as it was before the beginning. Thus, the BCCI must work on the number of fixtures to bring the good old exciting days back among the fans. 

However, keeping the profit margin in mind, the reduction of fixtures in IPL from now on is highly unlikely in the future days. The board are about to sell the IPL media rights for the next five years at a record-breaking deal, it would be tough for the organisers if they fail to keep the charm alive with the tournament’s progression.

So as of now, the IPL is suffering a steep decline, and this is a bitter fact.

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