With the exception of Jehan Mubarak coming in, there weren’t any changes made to my team than those that were discussed in the last article; the early burst by Northern Knights pacers, however, took a toll on my team that had 4 Lahore Lions batsmen. With Pakistan teams, though, you should always expect it.
Southern Express v Lahore Lions
Transfers made – 1; Transfers remaining – 6
Michael Hussey out – Danushka Gunathilaka in
Southern Express, as expected, were brushed aside with ease in the first couple of matches. I don’t expect it to be any different today, as well. Although the Lions looked out of sorts in the second qualifier match, that kind of pace bowling upfront with the new ball can’t be repeated match in, match out in a Twenty20 affair and, to add to that, the Express side lacks top notch new ball bowlers.
With 5 Lions players’ already in my team, the only other player who demands an inclusion is Umar Akmal. However, with both Kushal Perera and Umar being specialist wicket-keepers, I can have only one of them in my team. Sure, out of the two, Umar is a far better option considering the relative strengths of the bowling attacks. The issue, for me, though, is that I already have Kushal in my team.
Is it worth wasting a transfer to bring him in? I don’t think so, as the Express bowlers don’t have much ammunition in them to get through the top 3 of Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammed Hafeez. Even if they do, one of Umar Siddiq or Saad Nasim is going to get promoted. Further, assuming they bat first, will the Sri Lankans set a big enough target for the 24-year-old to have a telling impact? A score of 140-150, which is practically speaking what they are capable of, would be chased down with the top 3 making bulk of the contribution.
So, similar to the Kieron Pollard-case last time around, I choose to keep Umar out, not because he is incapable of scoring but because he wouldn’t be needed in most cases. Kushal needs to get through the new ball period to give good returns, though.
With Jehan Mubarak already in my team, Danushka Gunathilaka is one other Express batsman I would like to draft in. The southpaw has been playing a few attractive shots and has a decent T20 record: four 50s in 24 innings at an average of 23.09 and a strike-rate of 117.14. He can chip in with his off-breaks, as well.
None of the Express bowlers exude confidence and Farveez Maharoof, batting too low down the order, can’t be expected to play the kind of knock he did against Mumbai Indians every match.
Captaincy pick – Hafeez, despite him not doing anything of note so far, as I don’t find any better options.
Mumbai Indians v Northern Knights
Transfers made – 6; Transfers remaining – 0
Ahmed Shehzad out – Michael Hussey in
Mohammad Hafeez out - Kane Williamson in
Jehan Mubarak out - Kieron Pollard in
Nasir Jamshed out - Daniel Harris in
Danushka Gunathilaka out – Daniel Flynn in
Wahab Riaz out – Tim Southee in
With the new ball threat posed by the Knights pacers and the brittle middle of the defending champions, I expect Kieron Pollard to get some good playing time in the middle; therefore, he walks into my team. Michael Hussey and Lendl Simmons are automatic picks. Lasith Malinga, despite underwhelming performances so far, isn’t someone who you would leave out when you have so many substitutions in the bag.
When it comes to the Kiwi team, Kane Williamson and Trent Boult would be my first two picks. Daniel Harris, although hasn’t made it big so far, looks in good touch and hence should make it. While Daniel Flynn doesn’t look all that assured against spin, to leave him out just because the opposition has one off-spinner in Harbhajan Singh wouldn’t be wise.
That leaves us with just one more spot, with Pragyan Ojha, Harbhajan and Tim Southee competing for it. There is not much of a choice, but I always have this affinity for bowlers who bowl at the death, which means Southee gets the nod. It is not a reactive move based on his performance in the previous game; the right-arm seamer isn’t really a dependable option unlike, say, a Boult or a Malinga or a Starc. The nature of the deck and that he bowls during periods when the chances of taking wickets are maximum as compared to Ojha or Harbhajan makes him a more lucarative option.
Captaincy pick – Malinga, the most dependable option of all those available. While the Mumbai openers are in form, they are only one good ball away from becoming a total flop from a fantasy perspective, and the chances of it happening are relatively very high considering they will be batting during the testing phases of the match.
None of the Northern Knights batsmen with the exception of Williamson are stable enough to trust them with captaincy. A choice has to be made between Boult and Malinga; I stick with the later for his prowess in this format of the game.Published 16 Sep 2014, 11:46 IST