Lucknow gets its own IPL team

Both Lucknow and Ahmedabad were considered the favourites to have IPL teams in terms of their stadium capacity as well as facilities
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow will host IPL m atches. (FILE PHOTO)
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium in Lucknow will host IPL m atches. (FILE PHOTO)
Published on Oct 25, 2021 10:44 PM IST
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BySharad Deep, Lucknow

It’s official. Lucknow has its own Indian Premier League (IPL) team as the Sanjiv Goenka-led RPSG group on Monday won the bid for “Lucknow Team” at approximately 7000 crore (over 932 million USD), while private equity firm CVC Capital (also referred to as Irelia) got Ahmedabad at nearly 5200 crore (over 692 million USD).

It is learnt that the RPSG group also owned the Rising Pune Supergiant team that played two seasons (2016 and 2017) when Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were banned. It is also the owner of Indian Super League (ISL) franchise ATK Mohun Bagan.

In December last, Hindustan Times had reported about the prospect of the Uttar Pradesh state capital getting its own Indian Premier League team under the headline “Lucknow’s IPL team a possibility in 2021” on the front page.

There were anxious moments since Monday morning as Lucknowites waited with bated breath even before the start of the IPL Governing Council meeting in Dubai.

Both Lucknow and Ahmedabad were considered the favourites in terms of their stadium capacity as well as facilities. Lucknow’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium is one of the best stadiums in the world with a top-class drainage system and seating capacity of 55,000. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad, has a seating capacity of more than 100,000. The other cities in the fray were Indore, Guwahati, Cuttack, Dharamsala and Pune.

“It is good to be back in the IPL and I am delighted,” RPSG owner Sanjiv Goenka was quoted as saying soon after the BCCI’s announcement.

“It is an initial step. We now have to build a good team and perform,” he said.

Udai Sinha, managing director of Ekana Sportz City, which owns the Ekana Stadium, expressed happiness over the Ekana stadium getting the hosting rights for IPL matches.

“It’s a great honour for us that RPSG Group has chosen the Lucknow stadium as their home ground for the IPL team. I was waiting for this to happen ever since this stadium came into existence in 2018,” said Sinha on the phone from Dubai.

“I am thankful to BCCI vice-president and UP Cricket Association director Rajeev Shukla for his support to the stadium in getting the hosting rights of the IPL matches,” he said.

“I was quite sure about this as BCCI secretary Jay Shah, in his only visit to the stadium early this year, had praised the facilities. The stadium already has the ICC status for both Test and other formats of the game,” he said, adding, “It’s like a dream come true for Lucknowites as they always kept asking for an IPL team.”

Former India cricketer Gyanendra Pandey, too, hailed the RPSG Group for choosing Lucknow as the venue for its IPL team.

“We did see IPL matches for two seasons at the Green Park Stadium when Gujarat Lions had opted for it and now, we will see the magic of “fatafat” cricket in Lucknow also,” he said.

The 2022 edition will not be the first time the IPL will comprise 10 teams. That already happened a decade ago. It has been confirmed that the tournament format will follow the 2011 model, which scrapped the simple home-and-away format, and included a total of 74 matches (instead of the current number of 60).

In the 2011 edition, the 10 teams were split into two loose groups, and the tournament comprised 70 league matches and four playoff games, with all the teams ranked in one composite league table. During the league phase, every team played the same number of league matches, which was 14.

Each team played the other four in their group both home and away (eight matches), four of the teams in the other group once each (four matches, either home or away), and the remaining team in the other group twice, both home and away.

A random draw decided the composition of the groups as well as who played whom across the groups once and twice.

The last time more than eight teams played in the IPL was in 2013, when nine teams took part and played a total of 76 matches.

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