Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
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How Tamil Nadu Premier League became a feeder series for IPL

Tamil Nadu Cricket Association runs TNPL in a manner similar to Indian Premier League. But it is quickly becoming a launching pad for future IPL stars.

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The fantastic sixth season of the Tamil Nadu Premier League saw a rather anticlimactic conclusion: the coveted state league T20 cricket trophy was shared by fan-favourites Chepauk Super Gillies and Lyca Kovai Kings. Introduced as a way to keep the spirit of the Indian Premier League alive after the suspension of Chennai Super Kings in 2016, the TNPL has now become the de facto feeder series for the bigger, popular, global twenty-twenty franchise cricket tournament.

The TNPL stood out from the get-go because it had big backers and a lot of takers. And it was immediately able to achieve what leagues like the Karnataka Premier League and Maharashtra Premier League couldn’t: franchising. A huge credit for this goes to the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).

The state board runs the TNPL in a manner similar to the IPL – franchises based on districts, and easy online and TV access to the matches. This year, the TNPL was broadcast on Disney Star and streamed on Voot. The league garnered big sponsors – Shriram Capital, Upstok, Boost and Boomer.

“The main idea behind TNPL is to bring cricket to the districts of Tamil Nadu and explore local talent,” N Srinivasan, former BCCI present whose brainchild the league was, had said.


Also read: Loss of IPL streaming rights could cost Disney+ around 20 million subscribers


A perfect launchpad 

With two new teams joining last season and more to follow, the IPL is continually expanding — the league will always need new players. This is where state leagues will fill the gap and the TNPL seems way ahead of others.

Not only is the TNPL a perfect launchpad for rising talent in the state, but it is also a club that houses established stars. The league has seen the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Dinesh Karthik and Murali Vijay. Some of the coaches are also associated with IPL franchises. Hemang Badani, the head coach for defending champions Chepauk Super Gillies, is also the fielding coach and scout for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

What really works for the Tamil Nadu T20 league is how it gives new talent breathing room to rise and grow before they step into the big shoes of IPL’s franchise players. It allows them to figure out what they are good at and gives them the confidence they need to perform on the bigger stage. Consistency in such regional cricket formats helps talents and styles that are otherwise ignored. And if these players aren’t directly incorporated into the playing XI, they can always be bought and trained to make it into the playing XI. Arjun Tendulkar of Mumbai Indians is one such example. 

In the past few years, the TNPL has given the IPL cricketers who have shocked and astounded many. In 2021, there were nine players who graduated to the IPL; in 2022, there were 14. The likes of Sai Sudharsan, M Shahrukh Khan, Narayan Jagadeesan, and R Sai Kishore have built a name for themselves through TNPL and now play for title-winning teams in the IPL. Players like Washington Sundar, T. Natarajan, and Varun Chakravarthy also played in the TNPL and have since gone on to play for India internationally across formats.

TNPL is what happens when commercial cricket meets raw talent. By knocking on the doors of districts in the state, the tournament has secured access to talent that is easy and willing to be moulded. And so as these players play under high-pressure situations, a replication of the IPL, they receive early exposure to the technicalities of the sport, making their transition to the big leagues smooth.

By giving a platform to unsung cricketers, the Tamil Nadu Premier League opens up greater avenues for aspiring cricketers in India. It gives them another credible platform to showcase their abilities and earn their way into the big leagues of the sport. With the fantastic pool of talent seen in TNPL6, it is likely that we would now see them in IPL16.

(Edited by Prashant)

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