Rajasthan, Chennai officially back for IPL

India's administrators confirm that the clubs will return for the 2018 season after serving two-year suspension for spot-fixing scandal

The Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings are back.

The two Indian Premier League franchises that have missed the past two seasons of the lucrative T20 tournament through suspension after a 2013 spot-fixing scandal, have been welcomed back by India's cricket administrators.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday officially welcomed the return of the franchises and confirmed they would participate in the next season of the IPL, still at least nine months away.

India superstar MS Dhoni was the face of the CSK franchise, which won the IPL title in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011. They also finished runners-up in 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Rajasthan had a strong association with Australian talent, with Shane Warne captaining the side the inaugural IPL title in 2008, while Shane Watson was the marquee player in later years – and was player of the tournament in 2013 – before handing over the captaincy to Steve Smith.

The franchises were replaced with the Pune Rising Supergiants – led by Aussie skipper Smith – and the Gujarat Lions for the past two seasons.

The BCCI's welcome back announcement did not officially clarify the future for those two franchises, although earlier this year, the IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla had said there would be no extension for those clubs.

“No extension is being given to both the teams (Pune and Gujarat)," Shukla told reporters in May.

"The agreement was only for two years.

"Even if we make it a 10-team league, the two new teams would have to be freshly bid, so they (Pune and Gujarat) are not being given any extension or anything."

It is believed an expansion to a 10-team competition had been ruled out, with 60 matches already in the event.

Today, Shukla said: "It is my privilege to welcome back our franchisees, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, into the 11th edition of the IPL.

"We have had a strong working relationship with Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals and hope that we can continue to build upon the close ties that we have enjoyed in the past, as we move towards the next edition of the league."

The 2013 season that resulted in the two franchises being banned was a tumultous one. 

It saw police launch legal proceedings against several officials and three Rajasthan Royals players, including former Test fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, for illegal betting and spot-fixing.

Criminal charges were later dropped but the players were banned for breaching the BCCI's code of conduct.

A Supreme Court appointed panel then barred the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals from the Twenty20 competition in 2015, saying such a punishment was needed to protect the integrity of the game.

Royals co-owner Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, and Gurunath Meiyappan, of the Chennai franchise, were banned for life from cricket-related activities.

The make-up of the 2018 IPL squads for the returning franchises remains unclear. There has been reports of a "mega auction" with all players back up for grabs but nothing has been confirmed.

Such an event could prove a windfall for many players, although some clubs are likely to be able to retain marquee names – such as Virat Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Chinese mobile telecommunications company Vivo renewed its title sponsorship of the IPL in June for Rs 2199 crore (AUD$443m) over five years from 2018-2022.