#360debate: Has the IPL lost its magic?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Half-empty: Eden Gardens -pre-game on Sunday evening.

The IPL is fast approaching its conclusion this year, but things have been a little different.

In comparison with recent years, crowds and excitement have been down and there is a feeling that the tournament has been running flat following straight on from the ICC World T20.

Today’s #360debate asks: Has the IPL lost its magic?

Barny Read, Online Deputy Editor, says YES

By the time the IPL draws to a close on May 29, the tournament will have played out over 50 days of near non-stop action across 60 matches of IPL 9.

If you’re not sick of the whole thing by then you are likely one of two people; either a top international cricketer with a bulging wallet or a member of the BCCI with an even more burdensome purse.

Yes, there will be the fans that simply cannot get enough T20 cricket but as you can see from dwindling crowds at this year’s edition, those numbers are growing fewer.

It must be said that this tournament has come fresh on the back of the World T20 in India which has left the country positively drowning in Twenty20 cricket over the past three months.

Organisers would have been praying that the IPL’s draw would be big enough to harvest enough of a following amid the World T20 hangover but it hasn’t had such success.

The new TV graphics – a kind of Terminator attempt at cool – feel as apocalyptic as Arnie’s franchise.

The general public have far greater concerns right now and the new TV graphics – a kind of Terminator attempt at cool – feel as apocalyptic as Arnie’s franchise. On the pitch, this year’s tournament has been bereft of unpredictability – a fatal flaw for franchise cricket.

Although Virat Kohli’s habitual brilliance is something that you can never grow tired of seeing, each match has become so routine it’s becoming mundane.

The IPL seems to have followed a trend this year. Of the 37 opening matches this season, the winning captain at the toss has opted to bowl first on 32 occasions. And the side winning the toss and electing to field has lost only six times. Quite simply, if you win the toss and bowl, you will pick up two points often enough to send you into the playoffs.

As a spectator, this renders the majority of matches entirely useless unless the man on the right side of the coin flip goes against the grain and bats.

Drilled into our ears during the World T20 was how “fickle” T20 cricket is and how anyone can win on their day, but not at this IPL. No wonder people are switching off and nine years down the line the IPL is in drastic need of a facelift.

Joy Chakravarty, Regional Editor, says NO

The dwindling attendance at the matches and television ratings going down would suggest the Indian Premier League has lost its charm in 2016.

Half-filled stadiums and average ratings of 3.0 is a far cry from the usual fare of raucous and energetic full-house crowds, and consistent ratings in the region of 4.5 even last year.

While these are two massive indicators of popularity of the tournament, I feel this is just a result of viewer fatigue setting in after what has been one Twenty20 match after another for the Indian team from the beginning of the year.

Within a week of the World T20 Cup, which was hosted by India, getting over, the ninth season of the IPL kicked in. Because of the World T20 Cup, the build-up of IPL9 hasn’t been that great. Most IPL sponsors thought it would be a waste of money to undergo marketing activities when the premier ICC event was going on.

The Indian media, which plays a massive role in ramping up the interest level, was more busy with the exploits of the Darren Sammy-led West Indies and the failure of the Indian national team.

It’s not as if the games have been bereft of excitement. The first few matches were one-sided, but that is expected as some teams struggle to find a balance.

There are a few other factors too. The suspension of a team like Chennai Super Kings, which was the most followed team in the IPL given their immense success in the tournament over the years, certainly did not help.

And the last-minute shifting of the matches from the home grounds of two franchisees – Mumbai and Pune – because of court orders, were also a distraction.

The fact that established teams like Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have struggled this year, has also not gone down well with viewers. But as Leicester City proved in the Premier League this year, the balance of power eventually shifts in every sport.

In next year’s IPL, there will be more supporters of teams like Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

It’s not as if the games have been bereft of excitement. The first few matches were one-sided, but that is expected as some teams struggle to find a balance.

I’m sure as we move towards the decisive stage, fans will get excited and the IPL will prove it’s alive and kicking.

Most popular

Related Tags

Cricket Xtra: Technique still matters in T20

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Top form: Virat Kohli.

Modern day batting in limited overs cricket has a lot to do with power. Big bats and unhinged hitting have resulted in many good bowlers being dispatched to and beyond the boundary on countless occasions.

The art of playing along the ground seems like an excuse for an apparent inability to send the ball into the stands.

In T20s, this phenomenon is even more acute. If you think of T20 batting, the names of Chris Gayle, David Warner and AB de Villiers come to mind. And so they should because these mega hitters have made the format what it is today with their superhuman stroke-making.

And T20 leagues like the IPL are the perfect platform for such a brand of cricket to be played out in front of a hungry audience. But as the game evolves, so does its parameters. Nothing remains forever and dynamics change season to season.

And this IPL, the notion that T20 batting is all about power has been thoroughly challenged.

In 2014, the top four run-scorers in the IPL were Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell and David Warner. All these players are typical T20 batsmen, capable of sending the ball over the infield at will. So no surprises there.

But last year, the scenario changed. The second most prolific batsmen of the 2015 IPL was Ajinkya Rahane. The Mumbai batsman is one of the most technically gifted players in India and plays traditional shots to get his runs. He is more than capable of hitting sixes and can maintain a high scoring rate, whichever position he is batting in. But his presence on that list showed that players who time the ball well and hit the gaps can also make a mark in the shortest format.

This year, the situation has changed even more. The top scorer so far has been Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli, who is going through the most fruitful phase of his career. And giving him company in the top five batsmen’s list are Rahane and Gautam Gambhir.

So let’s take a look at Kohli and Gambhir. Both batsmen don’t bully the bowlers into submission. While the Indian Test captain believes in finding the gaps in the field and running hard between the wickets, while occasionally hitting it over the fence, Gambhir is at home nudging the ball behind the wicket to get going before expanding his range.

Make no mistake, those who can hit the big shots will always be in demand. But the game is evolving rapidly and those with a good technique are finding ways to meet the challenges.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence but this year, we saw Gayle being benched. It must be a strange feeling for the Jamaican to not be selected in a T20 league despite being in the squad. But it has happened multiple times so far and given his recent record, not a totally surprising one.

I didn’t think the ‘traditional’ batsman would lead the way in a 20-over show. But as happens in most aspects in life, only those with a solid base succeed in the long run. And as Kohli and Rahane have shown, you don’t have to be batting Hulks to get the job done in the T20 arena.

The perfect T20 all-rounder

When talking about the best T20 players, the names of Gayle and de Villiers just automatically come to mind.

Generally, when we think about the best players in any format, we tend to pick either batsmen or bowlers. But all-rounders are very rarely our first picks. They come just a little lower in the list.

Over the years, we have seen some great all-rounders play the game with great distinction. Most have been excellent in one aspect and good or decent in another.

Jacques Kallis was an exception in that he was technically flawless in everything he did on the cricket field but many felt he lacked charisma. So in a sense, there seemed something lacking in most all-rounders.

But when I look at West Indies’ Andre Russell, no such thought comes to mind. He is a T20 fan’s dream come true.

Russell is firstly an outstanding limited overs bowler. He can bowl seriously fast, close to 150kmph, on responsive wickets, and change his pace when the surface is slow. He takes wickets more often than not and in this IPL, has even maintained an economy rate of less than eight an over.

With the bat, he can match the biggest strokemakers shot for shot and a career strike rate of 165, scoring more than 2900 runs in T20s, is proof that he is super consistent too.

In the field, Russell is a live wire, throwing his body around, taking stunning catches and affecting run outs.

While there have been many players who have contributed heavily to the popularity of T20s, I feel no other cricketer personifies the format better than Russell.

He has the ability to make substantial contributions in every aspect of the game in whichever capacity he is on the field. And that’s a special talent.

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Twitter reacts as Karthik steers Gujarat Kolkata

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Dinesh Karthik scored 51 runs off 29 balls.

Gujarat Lions are back in business! Their five wicket-win over Kolkata Knight Riders snaps a two-match losing streak with two overs remaining at Eden Gardens on Sunday.

Here Sport360 takes a look at the best reaction from Twitter and you can join the fun #360fans.

Most popular

Related Sections