#360LIVE: Kings XI Punjab vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

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Use #360LIVE to have your say on the action.

Each of the two teams has had seasons to forget so far with RCB sitting second bottom of the table, a place ahead of the languishing Kings XI.

The one bright spark for Bangalore has been the form of Virat Kohli whose century in their last outing secured a memorable win.

Who do you see coming out on top and what have you made of both teams so far this season?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below or using #360fans across social media.

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Shreyas Iyer: A missed opportunity for Indian selectors?

Ishan Sen 9/05/2016
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Iyer was in red hot form last season

One of the foremost things that strike you when Shreyas Iyer takes guard is the unbelievable amount of confidence he exudes from his stance. There’s an obvious aura of nonchalance, a silent insouciance that defines his batting. He is unrattled by big names, undeterred by adversities, unconcerned with the odds as they stack against him.

Known for his aggression and love for big scores, Iyer impressed all and sundry during his stint with the Delhi Daredevils last season. The innate confidence that had once urged him to call up his mother and announce that he would score a century the next day before actually going on to do so, did not escape the likes of JP Duminy during the IPL.

As a youngster learning the preliminary nuances of maturity, Iyer is as unabashed off the field as he is on it. Speaking about breaking into the Indian team after emerging as the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy 2015-16, an excited Iyer remarked, “I think they should get me now into the team,” only to correct himself quickly by adding “it is not my job to think about it. My aim is to keep performing well, keep doing my job; let the selectors do their jobs. I will let the bat do the talking rather than me speaking about this topic.”

THE CALL THAT NEVER CAME

His Ranji figures are imposing, akin to the domination he enforces while at the crease. After a scintillating debut season, Iyer amassed 1,321 runs in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy at an average of 73.39 with 7 fifties and 4 centuries, including a match-winning 117 in the final against Saurashtra. He became only the second player to score 1,300 in a single Ranji competition, but eventually fell short of VVS Laxman’s all-time record by 95 runs.

After accumulating more than 2,300 domestic runs over the course of two seasons, hopes of a national call-up are neither misplaced nor overtly optimistic. But for the 21-year old, the call never came. Not yet, anyway. Did the selectors assume that the exponent of breathtaking pulls was not mature enough to face the best in the world on the biggest stage? Granted, toying with the Jaydev Unadkats is no match to standing up against the Mitchell Starcs of the world, but if not the nous, Iyer does have the resolve and determination to make a case for himself in international cricket.

Iyer's first-class record

  • Matches: 26, Innings: 43
  • Runs: 2,394, Average: 57.00
  • Hundreds: 6, Fifties: 14

The fact that Iyer’s rise to prominence coincided impeccably with Shikhar Dhawan’s barren run made the selectors’ reluctance all the more confounding. At a time when the opener debate encircled Indian cricket with Dhawan’s repeated failures being the Achilles’ heel at the top, Iyer’s consistency demanded acknowledgement and global recognition.

DHAWAN’S FALL AND IYER’S ASCENT

The difference between the two couldn’t have been clearer. While doubt and hesitation guided Dhawan as he nudged and poked at deliveries, the right-hander’s strokeplay brimmed with confidence, self-belief and conviction. Iyer is not a natural opener but rather one by design, it being a position he thrived in for the Daredevils.

Dhawan lacked assurance, Iyer was full of it. The latter maneuvered the gaps, struck boundaries at will and demolished attacks day in and day out, while the southpaw was frequently found flailing at deliveries before gifting away his wicket with impetuous strokes borne out of frustration.

It was, therefore, unfathomable when Dhawan’s spot refused to open up. As astonishing as it may sound, the selectors persisted with him despite his obvious shortcomings while the in-form Iyer was snubbed for India’s campaign in Australia, as the Asia Cup and even the World T20.

For any aspiring international cricketer, the repeated cold shoulder treatment was bound to get frustrating and demoralising after a point. Although Iyer maintained that “maybe it was better to gain experience for another year, then get in the team”, his dejection was conspicuous in its apparent absence. It was only a matter of time before the disappointment began to eat away at his form.

FRUSTRATION BEGINNING TO SEEP INTO HIS BATTING

So when the IPL arrived in April, the dissatisfaction, quite understandably, began to affect his cricket. Gone was the Midas touch; Iyer now suddenly found himself tossed into ordinariness – among the same group of predictable talent that he had once surpassed through hard work and dedication. Forget belligerence, forget dominating the opposition, he was now vulnerable to getting dismissed early on.

Was it the pressure of not being provided with the opportunity to reap the rewards of his hard work? Had he lost the zeal to perform and stand out amongst the plethora of talent? Has he given up knocking on the selectors’ door?

Probably not, Iyer is too cool a cat for that. He may struggle to stay afloat in the ocean of mediocrity right now, and may lose his spot in the Daredevils team sheet temporarily, but it must be only a matter of time and patience before his flair flows back. When he does so remains the question, for the lingering fear that it might be too late is too realistic to be shrugged off.

It is this point that persuades one to believe that India indeed lost the plot somewhat by not tapping into his talent while it was yielding the goods. Not only did his omission from the scheme of things hurt the national team, it also evoked the uncertainty that hard work and success may not always fetch the returns one expects. Only time can reveal when Iyer will return to form and construct a compelling argument once again for the elusive national cap. And as interesting will be whether that argument corresponds with a vacancy in the Indian line-up.

Timing, as they say, is everything in cricket.

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#360debate: Has the IPL lost its magic?

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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.

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