IPL 2023:  A Season to Remember

Like many cricket enthusiasts living overseas, watching an Indian Premier League (IPL) match live had been my dream  for years. The COVID pandemic added to that long wait, until finally, this year, I made it to India for the IPL. And it did not disappoint. What a season IPL 2023 turned out to be, with incredible plot twists, last-over finishes, and a final match for the ages! Young players were catapulted to superstardom and seasoned ones rejuvenated their careers. It was certainly one of the greatest seasons of franchise cricket ever. 

Cricket in India is a superlative experience that cannot be found in the U.S. At least not yet. But with Major League Cricket taking off in the U.S., who can tell? 

Getting an IPL ticket is no mean task

If you are a cricket fan planning a trip to India for the IPL, know that getting tickets to matches can be tough. Tickets are sold on three online platforms, each with different requirements, and must be delivered to an Indian address. 

My IPL itinerary in India included seven different teams playing five matches in five different stadiums. Getting tickets to Chennai Super Kings (CSK)  games this year was the hardest. Thousands of fans were trying to buy them as quickly as possible and at the same time. For one of the matches, the website crashed for 15 minutes immediately after the tickets were released, and barely two minutes later, online tickets were sold out! Getting tickets to other franchise games was not too bad. 

Watching the matches live was electric! Here’s a taste of my maiden IPL experience.

Best Stadium Atmosphere

Royal Challengers Bangalore vs CSK @ M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

This is a wide-angle photo of a cricket match in Chennai, India during IPL 2023. (Photo: Adi Anand)
Chennai Super Kings take on Royal Challengers Bangalore, in the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru. (Photo: Adi Anand)

Prior to the game, the atmosphere around the stadium was dynamic. Thousands of fans were in either yellow or red, their team colors. The footpaths and sidewalks were filled with vendors selling jerseys and other gear. While there was a huge crowd near each entry gate, there was a significant police presence as well. While CSK flags were not allowed inside the stadium, CSK fans made up for that by sheer volume. 

And the decibel level was off the scale throughout the game! Fans chanted and cheered for their teams before every single ball! The players responded by showing their batting prowess; a record 33 6’s were hit during the match!  

Best Fan Experience

Gujarat Titans vs Rajasthan Royals @ Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad

This was my first live IPL game. The streets leading up to the Narendra Modi Stadium are all pedestrian-only, so the party starts early with fans being dropped off or taking the Metro to the closest station and then walking to the stadium together. My sister and I chose to support both teams equally, with me sporting a GT jersey and my sister an RR one.

The stadium is big and beautiful. The game was a thriller and the stadium was full of energy. Players interacted regularly with the crowd, which was fantastic. What came as a surprise to me was that these games – particularly in Ahmedabad – can turn into a party,  with the DJ playing crowd favorites between overs and the entire stadium rocking to the music! Also, there were fireworks during the innings break. 

The game was just as thrilling as the atmosphere, with RR coming from behind to win. GT batted first and set a target of 178 to win. The Royals lost their openers quickly, finding themselves with only 60 runs in 12 overs. At this point, everyone thought the game was over. However, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer stayed strong and rebuilt the innings. When Samson perished, RR still needed 100 runs in 7 overs. Just when I, like many fans, started to leave the ground to beat the foot traffic to the main road, Hetmyer began hitting boundaries at will. In the final over, he hit a towering pull-shot that cleared the boundary with ease, winning the game for RR! As soon as the ball crossed over the boundary, everybody was jumping with excitement, and the roar of the crowd was deafening!  

Meh Fan Experience

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

I was looking forward to being at the historic stadium – this was where India won the 2011 World Cup. But the stadium experience was sub-par. While all stadiums had plenty of security, the guards at Wankhede were extremely rude. They yelled at us when they found a single coin in our bag!  Also, the stadium cannot play music or use loudspeakers after 10 p.m. Most of the second inning was quiet as a result and felt lackluster, particularly in comparison to other stadiums. 

The day I went to Wankhede was in fact Sachin Tendulkar’s birthday. All around the stadium, Sachin masks were being distributed for people to wear or wave. But hardly anyone seemed  particularly motivated to do that, so not many Sachin-faced fans. 

Most Fan Support: Chennai Super Kings

While RCB and GT fans were also present in large numbers to support their teams, CSK fans were at another level. Be it an away game or one at their home stadium, Chepauk, CSK fans showed up in droves to see their thala, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one last time; 2023 was expected to be his last IPL outing. For me, too, seeing Dhoni live at Chepauk was truly a dream come true. 

It felt like CSK never really played an away game this season. Everywhere that CSK played was a sea of yellow, with chants of ‘We want Dhoni’ reverberating through the stadiums! Dhoni padding up drew more cheers than some teams received after winning a game! 

Meh Fan Support: Sunrisers Hyderabad 

I watched SRH take on the Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad, at their home field, the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. While the traffic to the game was intense, the fans at the game were not. There would be a few cheers for a wicket or a boundary, but otherwise, things were rather tame. The announcer had to try hard to rile up the crowd and get them to make some noise. Perhaps these fans were too disciplined, or maybe it was the fact that their team has not been performing well of late. Either way, the difference in audience enthusiasm compared with other franchise games was pretty stark. 

Was Adi’s Crystal Ball Accurate?

Prior to the start of the season I had made some predictions about how these teams will fare in the IPL. Let’s see how close I got. 

Rajasthan Royals

Given the quality and balance of their team, I had predicted that they would enter the playoffs and be title contenders. They started off well, but failed to keep it up, barely missing a berth in the playoffs. They had a career-best season from Yashasvi Jaiswal, but had disappointing performances from Jos Buttler and Riyan Parag.  
Adi’s Crystal Ball: Champions
Final Rank:
5th place

Mumbai Indians

While I had thought they would do well straight off the bat, MI’s season started off poorly but ended well. They just about made the playoffs by winning five of their last seven games. The return of Suryakumar Yadav’s form, and Piyush Chawla’s re-emergence and amazing bowling,  both played a role in getting them ahead. However, they had disappointing innings from Rohit Sharma, Jofra Archer, and Jasprit Bumrah. 
Adi’s Crystal Ball: Champions
Final Rank: Playoffs, 4th 

Gujarat Titans 

Last year’s champions were expected to do well and get to the playoffs if not the finals. They did so, and made a great title defense as well, losing the final only on the last ball! Hardik Pandya’s captaincy continued to be first-class, and their team not only had the orange cap winner (Shubman Gill) who scored a mammoth 890 runs, but also the top three bowlers of the season (Mohammed Shami, Rashid Khan and Mohit Sharma). 
Adi’s Crystal Ball: Playoffs
Final Rank: 2nd place

Chennai Super Kings

At the start of the season, few could predict that CSK would win the tournament. The team  had to deal with key injuries during the season. However, this IPL, the CSK camp was playing for something bigger than the trophy itself – sending MS Dhoni off in style. As a team, they pulled off a miracle. They produced career best performances from a number of players, such as Matheesha Pathirana, Shivam Dube, and Ajinkya Rahane. Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway were solid openers. Dhoni also had key cameos even with a knee injury, including a lightning-quick stumping in the finals.
Jadeja spun his way to wicket after wicket through the season, capping it with a heroic final game performance, hitting a 6 and 4 off the last two balls to take CSK to victory. Jadeja ran straight to MS Dhoni, and Dhoni – always calm, living up to his “Captain Cool” moniker – lifted Jadeja off the ground and carried him around! A picture-perfect moment for the ages. CSK fans will truly remember this season forever.  The icing on the cake was that Dhoni said he would try and return next year.
Adi’s Crystal Ball: Playoffs
Final Rank: Champions

Royal Challengers Bangalore

It was another disappointing season for RCB fans. After repeating year after year, ee sala cup namde (this year the cup is ours in Kannada), the trophy is yet to come home. They were in the running until the end, largely due to their top order of Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli. Both players put up impressive runs, with Faf and Kohli scoring 740 and 639, respectively. Unfortunately, the RCB’s glaringly weak middle order and overall unbalanced team held them back.
Adi’s Crystal Ball:  5th
Final Rank: 6th

Lucknow Super Giants

LSG fared better than I had expected, ending in third place. Despite losing their skipper KL Rahul to an injury, the team stepped up with performances that took them to the playoffs. LSG played many close games this season – many of their all-rounders performed in the death overs. Quinton De Kock played a crucial role in their success in many games. LSG showed the impact a team effort can make and the importance of winning the close games.
Adi’s Crystal Ball: 6th
Final Rank: 3rd 

Delhi Capitals

As predicted, DC did not do well this year. The team felt Rishabh Pant’s absence, and while they did pull together some good wins in the second half of the season, it was nowhere near enough. Their batting was the weak link; the majority of their batters heavily underperformed this season.
Adi’s Crystal Ball:  7th
Final Rank: 9th

Kolkata Knight Riders

To no one’s surprise, KKR also failed to make an impact in IPL 2023. They ended in 7th place, with their weak batting lineup being exposed in many encounters. They struggled to find the correct combination, and kept shuffling players without much success.
Adi’s Crystal Ball:  8th
Final Rank: 7th

Punjab Kings

As expected, the Kings had a disappointing season. They were below par on all aspects. Neither their batters, including the normally good Sam Curran, nor their  bowling unit clicked consistently. It remains to be seen what they do with their off-season and auction. 
Adi’s Crystal Ball:  9th
Final Rank: 8th

Sunrisers Hyderabad

I had got this prediction right – SRH ended last. Their picks in the auction, such as Harry Brook, did not pan out. The one bright spot for SRH was Heinrich Klaasen, who was a great keeper-batter and was one of the finds of the tournament.
Adi’s Crystal Ball: 10th
Final Rank: 10th

Adi Anand is a 10th grader living in the Bay Area. He is an avid sports fan. In his free time, Adi likes to read.