The Board of Control for Cricket in India has announced the schedule for the Indian T20 League 2023, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Team Chennai taking on Team Gujarat in the opening fixture at the Narendra Modi Stadium. The tournament will kickstart on March 31, with 70 fixtures scheduled to be held over the course of 52 days. The Indian T20 League will revert to its home-and-away format, with 12 venues hosting the games across the country.
Here’s a look at the complete schedule of the eagerly awaited Indian T20 League 2023:
The league stage of the Indian T20 League is similar to the format followed by the tournament last year, with ten franchises being split into two groups. Team Mumbai, Team Kolkata, Team Rajasthan, Team Delhi and Team Lucknow make up the Group A of the tournament, while Team Chennai, Team Hyderabad, defending champions Team Gujarat, Virat Kohli’s Team Bangalore and Team Punjab belong to Group B.
The teams have been split into groups based on their past performances in the tournament. Each franchise will play every other franchise in the same group once and every team in the other group twice – leading up to a combined 14 group-stage games for each team. The ready-reckoner format has been adopted to reduce the overall number of games due to the expanded nature of the tournament and got favourable reviews from fans last year.
The format means that there will be two fixtures between Team Mumbai and Team Chennai in the league stage, with the rivalry between the two sides touted as the El Clasico of the Indian T20 League.
All the teams will be slotted in a single table, with the top two teams making it directly to Qualifier 1. The third and fourth-placed teams will play the Eliminator, with the winner facing the losing team from Qualifier 1 in Qualifier 2. The dates for the Qualifiers and Eliminator are yet to be announced, but the final will likely be held on May 28.
Venues And Timings
After being confined to limited stadiums for the past three seasons, the Indian T20 League will return to the home-and-away model, greatly benefitting the local fans of the franchises. Twelve venues across India have been selected for hosting the games, with Guwahati hosting Team Rajasthan and Dharmashala hosting Team Punjab for a few games. Team Rajasthan will play their opening two games in Guwahati before moving to Jaipur for the remainder of the season, while Team Punjab will play their last two league-stage games in Dharamshala.
Crucially, the return of the home-and-away model means that this is likely to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s final season in the Indian T20 League. The Indian legend has expressed his desire to retire in front of a packed Chepauk Stadium, with fans expected to fill the venue in droves to watch the former Indian captain play one last time.
Team Punjab will face Team Kolkata in the second game of the tournament, while Team Lucknow will face Team Delhi on the same day. Virat Kohli’s Team Bangalore will take on Rohit Sharma’s Team Mumbai on April 2nd. While the venues for the playoffs are yet to be announced, the final will likely be played in the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Depending on Team Chennai’s fortunes in the tournament, Chepauk will likely host one of the three play-offs, with another going to the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
18 of the 52 days in the Indian T20 League calendar will see doubleheaders, with the day games starting at 3:30 PM IST and the evening games starting at 7:30 PM IST. With the return of the home-and-away format, teams will be forced to manage travel fatigue for their players. While the dreaded bio-bubble rules are long-gone, players will now need to frequently travel between venues across the country. The situation is particularly difficult for defending champions Team Gujarat, who have alternate home-away games for the entirety of the tournament.
Narrow Window For WTC Final
India almost sealed their spot in the World Test Championship final with their victory over Australia in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. With the World Test Championship final set to start on June 8 at The Oval, India’s red-ball players will need to steer clear of taking risks during the tail-end of the tournament. If India fail to once again secure the championship, it is likely to kickstart a debate regarding the planning around the tournament. The Indian T20 League is now set to occupy two months of the calendar year, and with the possibility of free streaming looming on the horizon, the popularity and reach of the league will reach new heights in 2023.
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