Since 2008, IPL has been played on the grounds in three different countries. IPL has traveled to South Africa. It has also gone to UAE. Since 2008, IPL has been played on thirty-three cricket grounds around the world. Out of these thirty-three grounds, eight grounds are of South Africa and three are of UAE. IPL has gone out of the country twice. In 2009, BCCI decided to organise IPL’s second season in South Africa due to general elections. There could have been security issues during the elections. The government of India refused to commit the security. Thus, it was good decision to host IPL out of India in 2009.
IPL in South Africa
It was not easy to host IPL in South Africa. The cost factor was massive for BCCI and franchises but stalling the second season of the league was not an option. Cricket South Africa provided full cooperation to BCCI in organising the IPL in South Africa. Cricket South Africa gave BCCI eight grounds to conduct the whole season of IPL. South African cricket board worked on pitches, outfields and readied the grounds for IPL. Not only that, it also allowed BCCI to decorate the grounds in the colours of IPL. The grounds were prepared so well that it felt like IPL is being played at home.
IPL in UAE
In the year 2014, again IPL was clashing with the general elections in India. And again, the government of India denied the security. So BCCI decided to move the league out of India again but this time, BCCI decided to conduct only a part of the tournament out of India due to the pressure from sponsors. The first phase of IPL in the second half of April was played in UAE. IPL was conducted on the grounds in UAE. In UAE as well, the grounds were decorated in IPL colours. They were prepared for IPL but still, outfields were slow and pitches were slow at a couple of venues. It was not the same experience as South Africa.
Grounds in India
Since 2008, IPL has been played on twenty-two different grounds across the nation. Grounds for IPL are selected on the basis of certain factors. There is a process of selecting the grounds for IPL in India.
First, the grounds of those cities are selected in which franchises are based. Thus, the grounds of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Punjab are part of IPL schedule every year. These are the grounds where the home of franchises is based. Teams have created memories on these grounds and fans are emotionally attached to these home grounds. Thus, every season of IPL starts and ends on the grounds of the cities in which franchises are based.
Second, then those grounds are selected which are in the same region in which franchise is based. For example, after first few games, King XI Punjab shifts its base from Mohali to Dharamshala. Rajasthan Royals shifts its base from Jaipur to Ahmedabad. Every franchise plays two to three games on their second home ground.
Third, the cities in which new stadiums are built and not much cricket is played are selected for IPL. Indore, Cuttack, Vishakhapatnam, Raipur and Kanpur are such places where cricket is not much played and IPL has been organised there. Ranchi, Rajkot, Pune, Kochi and Dharamshala are the places in which new stadiums were built and were tested by BCCI during the IPL.
There is one more factor which forces the BCCI to select certain grounds and that is the response of fans. From the grounds mentioned above, BCCI keeps scheduling the matches on those where IPL has got a great response from fans.
To make a ground IPL ready, a lot of hard work is done. Groundsmen work day and night to make the ground ready for an IPL match. They make sure that grass is neither too big nor too short. Groundsmen water and cut the grass to make the outfield faster. Curators work on the pitch to make it ready for the exciting games. The day IPL schedule is out, groundsmen start working on the ground. Not only groundsmen, work related to decorating the grounds also begin, banners, LEDs, painting and repair work at the ground begin with the schedule. The difference on any ground between any other domestic game and an IPL match is easily noticed. The effort and the hard work put behind the IPL on every ground is completely different to the effort put in any other domestic tournament.
In one interview, a groundsman in Kolkata was asked, “How many hours do you work?”
“There is no time frame of work. We just eat and work here. There are no shifts, no number of hours fixed. Whether it is day or night, we simply eat and work.” This was the groundsman’s answer. So imagine, how much hard work is being done to make the grounds IPL ready. In future, IPL will be played on many grounds. And, considering the factors and the trend, many new grounds of the country will be introduced through IPL.