Cricket as a sport has always been fancy and attractive. However, when it blended with glamour in a cash-rich league like IPL, the excitement and buzz naturally reached their apex. Before 2008, having different players from different countries was a concept popular only in English countries along with special ‘charity matches’. However, ever since the craze of the T20 format posts in the year 2007, the BCCI certainly ticked every box wonderfully when it comes to gaining publicity. Over the year, we have seen teams come and go. While some teams like Gujarat Lions and Kochi Tuskers Kerala were terminated after a couple of seasons, an IPL ‘giant’ like Chennai Super Kings saw a ban as well in between due to controversial reasons beyond the sport. While a lot of dynamics might have changed over the years, one thing that kept the IPL going strong is the unconditional love and passion of fans towards the sport.
Wins or losses, certain teams have had loyal fan clubs who have been there with their teams as a rock-solid pillar of support during times of crisis. Apart from Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are the two franchises that are considered to be the most successful teams in IPL history. While Mumbai has won the championship 5 Times, Chennai has won it four times and Kolkata has won it twice. These are the only three teams in IPL history who have managed to lift the championship more than once. Although their respective team cultures and way of going about things are quite different from one another, one thing is pretty similar. Well, it is how they have shown faith in their core group of players over the years and put their money on them repeatedly by giving them the confidence and backing that any player deserves. If one takes a close look at IPL history post the year 2011, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata are three teams who have done the least number of changes in their core squad until and unless they were forced to due to auction rules or unavailability of players. MSD had been leading the team from 2008 till 2021 and if one introspects properly, it is players like MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Mike Hussey, and DJ Bravo who have been with the team for many years. It certainly helped the team build a core leadership group of seniors who would be around MS Dhoni to guide the youngsters. The result is 4 IPL titles that include one of the most stunning comebacks in 2021 after being written off after a dismal performance in 2020.
It is no different for a squad like Mumbai Indians as well. Ever since Rohit Sharma took over the reins of the squad in 2013, few players who have consistently delivered for them season after season are Rohit Sharma himself, Quinton De Kock (Ex MI player, now with Lucknow Super Giants), Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah alongside Lasith Malinga who’s now retired from the game. Since at least 4-to 5 players of the team remained the same over the years, it helped Mumbai as a squad gel well under Rohit’s leadership due to which they eventually registered 5 championships under their belt. It has been somewhat similar for Kolkata Knight Riders as well from the year 2011-to 2017 in particular. Throughout this entire tenure, it was Gautam Gambhir who led the squad and like the visionary that he has, he had already chosen his players who will deliver goods for the team in the long run. During that entire tenure, alongside Gautam, a few players who have come good for the squad are Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins, Andre Russell, and Umesh Yadav. And guess what? Apart from GG who’s now mentoring the Lucknow Super Giants team, all the other players are still a part of the franchise doing well to the best of their abilities. Without any element of doubt, the potential of these players compiled with Gautam Gambhir’s leadership helped the team win IPL twice in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Apart from these three teams, if we take a close look into teams like Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and others, barring one or two players, the think-tanks of all these franchises have more often than not believed in getting a complete overhaul done of the squad. As a result of too many chopping and changes over the years, the players haven’t got the opportunity to gel well with each other over multiple seasons and it certainly didn’t help the causes of these squads. As a result, RCB, Delhi Capitals, and Punjab Kings are three teams who have to date never won the IPL. Rajasthan Royals is quite a ‘curious case’ as after their heroic win in 2008 in the inaugural season where they were initially termed as ‘underdogs’, they have never really made an impact.
However, what’s bygone is bygone and going by the trends and analytics of this season, seems like these franchises have taken lessons from the likes of KKR, MI and CSK and have finally realised how important it is to show faith in the same group of core players at least for multiple seasons before letting them go. As of now, season 2022 of IPL looks evenly poised as all the teams have it in them to come out all guns blazing with an attacking approach and win the title. Eventually, whose name gets embedded in that coveted trophy this year is time to tell. However, going by the history of IPL and how things have gone in the tournament, it is certainly safe to say that this is something all teams must follow if they are ‘serious’ about winning the title.