Reigning champions Chennai Super Kings will lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders to kick off the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League which will see a new play-off system, according to the schedule released by the IPL governing body on Wednesday.
The schedule for the 10-team league is, however, subject to final approval in view of the state elections scheduled to be held around that time.
"We are aware that the state assembly elections are planned in a number of the host cities. We are consulting the authorities and will confirm the schedule as soon as we are able to do so. "In the meantime we have decided to release the provisional schedule to satisfy the massive level of interest in IPL across the country," said Chirayu Amin, chairman of the IPL governing body.
Chennai's M A Chidambaram Stadium would host the opening encounter on April 8 as well as the final on May 28 along with one play-off qualifier while Mumbai would host the second qualifier as well as the lone eliminator in the new format of the Twenty20 league. As per the schedule, the 10 teams -- including the two new franchises Kochi and Pune - would play a total of 74 matches at 13 venues spread over 51 days. To qualify for the final, the top four teams in the league will have to negotiate a new play-off system that has been introduced for the 2011 season.
The teams finishing first and second in the League stage will compete in the first play-off game, or qualifier 1 with the winner progressing directly to the final, while the loser would have a second chance of reaching the title contest via the qualifier 2 play-off match.
The teams finishing 3rd and 4th in the League stage will compete in the eliminator – the winner going forward to Qualifier 2 (where they will meet the losing team from Qualifier 1) while the loser will play no further part in the tournament and would finish in fourth position.
The winner of qualifier 2 would progress to the final, where it will play the winner of qualifier 1. The new format lends more significance to each of the four IPL play-off matches.
There is a clear advantage for the teams finishing in the top two league positions, giving an added impetus for the teams to fight for the top positions in the league. Overall, the new format will provide fans with even greater enjoyment and excitement.
As reigning champions, Chennai Super Kings have the right to host the opening match of the season, and to provide the venue for the final.
The dates and venues for the play-off matches are: May 24: Qualifier 1 (1st v 2nd) - Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. May 25: Eliminator (3rd v 4th) Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai May 27: Qualifier 2 ((winner of Eliminator vs loser of Qualifier 1), M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai May 28: Final (winner of Qualifier 1 vs winner of Qualifier 2), M A Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
The two finalists along with the losing team from Qualifier 2 would earn berths to play in the 2011 Champions T20 League to be played later in the year.