More money, more matches in IPL-IV

New Delhi, April 6 : Even as the country rejoices over the World Cup victory, top players from all over the cricketing globe are here to play in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) starting Friday. There will be
10 teams, including two new entrants, and 74 matches played over 51 days April 8-May 28.

Two news franchises, Sahara Pune Warrirors and Kochi Tuskers, will join the existing eight — reigning champions Chennai Super Kings, runners-up Mumbai Indians, champions in inaugural year Rajasthan Royals, winners the next year when it was played in South Africa Deccan Chargers, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders.

The tournament will kick off in Chennai with a game between hosts Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders with a fair sprinkling of Bollywood pitching in at the inaugural ceremony.

The schedule was revised after the election dates were announced for assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry.

The eight original franchises have been allowed to retain four players, three of whom have to be Indians. The retained players have to be from the rooster of registered players for the 2010 edition and their fee will be mutually decided by the stakeholders.

A franchise retaining four players will have to pay $4.5 million a year and that leaves it with only $4.5 million to spend on other players. The players retained will be valued at $1.8 million for the first player, $1.3 million for the second, $900,000 for the third and $500,000 for the fourth.

New entrants Pune and Kochi have also been allowed to hire four players who were not affiliated with any of the other franchises in the first three editions.

If a franchise decides against retaining any player, it will have the full purse of $9 million to spend. Also, the franchises can only have a squad of 30 players.

The rest of the squad was finalised through open bidding at an auction in January and included young Ranji Trophy players.

After prolonged haggling over the format, it was decided that there will be two groups of five teams each and they will play 70 league matches plus four play-off games.

A round-robin among the 10 teams would have resulted in 94 matches. Realising that playing that many games would not only reduce spectator interest, but also lead to player burnout, it was decided to peg the number of matches at 74, including three play-off games and the final.

The number of league games has been equally divided among the 10 teams. Each team will now play seven matches at home and seven away. Each team will play one league match each against four teams of other group and two more on home or away basis against the fifth team selected randomly.

The top two teams in the points table will play each other in first playoff (A) and the winners of this game will go straight into the final.

The second playoff game (B) will be between teams finishing third and fourth in the standings.

The Game B winners will play the losers of Game A in the third play-off (C) for a place in the final against the winners of Game A.

The playoff system was replicated from the Cricket New Zealand format. (IANS)