Cricket’s richest franchise tournament – the Indian Premier League (IPL) – is set to return this weekend as defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) begin their title defence at home against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The 17th season of the T20 league will begin on March 22 at 8pm local time (14:30 GMT) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in India’s southern city of Chennai, where the five-time champions can expect a rapturous welcome by the home crowd.

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Here’s what you need to know about the tournament:

What’s the IPL schedule?

The nearly two-month-long tournament will begin on Friday, March 22. Last month, organisers announced a partial schedule for the first 21 fixtures until April 7 as the dates of India’s upcoming general election had not been announced at the time.

Issues related to the management and security of the tournament whilst the country goes to polls are understood to be behind the curtailed schedule announcement.

The election schedule was announced last week, with the polls running from April 19 to June 4, and IPL organisers are expected to release the dates of the remaining fixtures in the next few days.

Day games will begin at 3:30pm local time (10:00 GMT) and night games will begin at 7:30pm local time (14:00 GMT).

How many teams will play in IPL 2024?

The IPL launched as an eight-team tournament in 2008, but the configuration has changed on multiple occasions as franchises were suspended (on corruption charges)], dropped from the tournament or renamed.

However, this will be the third consecutive season that the same 10 teams make up the league. They are:

Chennai Super Kings
Delhi Capitals
Gujarat Titans
Kolkata Knight Riders
Lucknow Super Giants
Mumbai Indians
Punjab Kings
Rajasthan Royals
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Sunrisers Hyderabad

What’s the format of IPL’s 2024 season?

Much like the configuration of the teams, the tournament’s schedule has been changed on a few occasions. The league started in a round-robin format, but it was changed to a group format in its last edition and this season all 10 teams will play each other twice with the return of the round-robin format.

The top two teams at the end of the league games will play the first qualifier while the third- and fourth-placed teams will face off in the eliminator.

The winner of the first qualifier will book a place in the final, while the loser will play the winner of the eliminator in the second qualifier. The winner of this match will become the second team to qualify for the final.

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli (left) is the leading run-scorer in the IPL [File: Mahesh Kumar A/AP]

Who are the 10 IPL captains?

There has been some chopping and changing ahead of this season, with a new leader taking charge of the joint most successful team Mumbai Indians. Here are the teams and their captains:

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni

Delhi Capitals: Rishabh Pant

Gujarat Titans: Shubman Gill

Kolkata Knight Riders: Shreyas Iyer

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul

Mumbai Indians: Hardik Pandya

Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan

Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Pat Cummins

IPL 2024 venues

As each team will play the other nine teams twice, the tournament will be played in a home-and-away format.

The venues for the qualifiers, eliminator and final have not been confirmed.

Delhi Capitals will play their first two home games at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, while the scenic Dharamsala Stadium in the northern Himachal Pradesh state is also expected to host a few games.

The venues and their home teams are:

MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai – Chennai Super Kings
Arun Jaitley Stadium, New Delhi – Delhi Capitals
Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad – Gujarat Titans
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Eden Gardens, Kolkata – Kolkata Knight Riders
BRSABV Ekana Stadium, Lucknow – Lucknow Super Giants
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – Mumbai Indians
Maharaja Yadavindra Singh International Cricket Stadium, Punjab – Punjab Kings
Swai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur – Rajasthan Royals
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad – Sunrisers Hyderabad
Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam
HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

Who are past IPL champions?

Chennai Super Kings: 2010, 2011, 2018, 2021, 2023
Mumbai Indians: 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020
Kolkata Knight Riders: 2012, 2014
Rajasthan Royals: 2008
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 2016
Gujarat Titans: 2022
Deccan Chargers: 2009

Who is the most expensive signing of IPL 2024?

Australia’s Mitchell Starc became the most expensive signing in the history of the IPL, topping the record figure paid for teammate Pat Cummins at the competition’s 2024 auction in December.

Starc, who was last in the IPL eight years ago, was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.98m. That beat the fee paid by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Cummins, who went for $2.46m.

Before this auction, the record signing was England bowler Sam Curran after he joined Punjab Kings for $2.23m last year.

How much is the prize money?

While the prize money for this year’s IPL has not been confirmed by organisers, if previous years are anything to go by, the IPL purse this time around is expected to be around $6m.

The 2024 champions could take home approximately $2.4m and runners up $1.56m.