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IPL 2014: Fantasy Guru - The play-off strategy

If you think that you have started too late for the official IPL Fantasy League 2014, you can always play this alternative version of fantasy cricket where you can win cash prizes daily - SportskeedaFantasyLeague. The next round has two matches featuring four teams: Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings.

In this type of fantasy cricket, while assembling your playing 11 for the two matches, make sure you don’t miss out on players like Manan Vohra, Lendl Simmons, Jasprit Bumrah, Akshar Patel, Rishi Dhawan and Pat Cummins who could prove to be the differential at a comparatively lower rate. While you can play for free, if you choose to play with an entry fee to Rs 35, you can win Rs 300. You can pay up to Rs 1,150 and win Rs 10,000 in cash for every round.

Ice man for crunch situations

With all the play-off matches to be played on high-scoring decks, I don’t see many bowlers who can withstand the onslaught from the batsmen, more so when you see the likes of David Miller, Dwayne Smith, MS Dhoni, Glenn Maxwell, Kieron Pollard, etc., in the list. So, it is important to make sure that we get points from the bowlers and not have them just for the sake of it. 

There is only one bowler who fits the bill, irrespective of how conducive the track is to him: Sunil Narine. The next best bet will be Sandeep Sharma. Kings XI Punjab were smart to rest him, and, with the early swing on offer in almost all the venues, Sandeep, who bowls 3 on the trot, can put the opposition on the backfoot by getting a couple of wickets, which makes him a must-have in fantasy teams. 

The reason why I specify these two bowlers is because they have the ability to pick up wickets even when the batsmen are on the defensive. While the others may be amongst wickets, it will be down to how the opposition batsmen approach the game, something that you can’t account for in an analysis. The probability doesn’t favour them. Also, to try and zero in on that one bowler who will be fortunate enough to get wickets will only be an attempt in vain.

Kolkata Knight Riders:

Picking Robin Uthappa in the team is a no-brainer. The other 3 players who are worth the consideration are Shakib Al Hasan, Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan. Yes, you read that right: I did mean Yusuf Pathan.

What we are seeing now is the beast of the old; the one who smashed South Africa in South Africa and New Zealand at Bangalore. Those are two of the best LOI knocks I have ever seen. It is a pity that he went off the boil in the last 3 years. Now that I can see what I saw in him years back, he makes his way into my team. Given the freedom he enjoys and the position he comes in, he is worth a shot. However, as always, with the big hitters, it could be all or nothing. Even if he gets out for a duck, I wouldn’t bother, as the process is right.

It is a difficult choice between Gambhir and Shakib. Both have shortcomings: While Gambhir will be batting in the most testing phase of the match, Shakib could easily not get enough deliveries to make an impact. I am inclined to go with Shakib, as Sandeep Sharma could run through the top order, thereby giving more time for Shakib at the crease. As I have always said, to expect Shakib to take wickets this year at Eden Gardens is naive. 

Morne Morkel starts off well but almost always ends up with figures like 4-0-32-1. He doesn’t bowl at the death, too. You can’t pick him hoping a miracle. However, if Pat Cummins plays, I would pick him, as he bowls at the death and is more destructive. 

Kings XI Punjab:

David Miller would be my first pick for this match, even ahead of Glenn Maxwell. Given the form that Maxwell finds himself to be in and the way the Kings XI openers play, it will be down to Miller to see them through, regardless of them batting first or bowling first.

Manan Vohra, being an uncapped player and a ridiculously exciting talent, will also find a spot. It is important to keep the expectations low here. Vohra has come a long way from what he was last year, but he still succumbs at the first sight of a quality bowler. While his ability was there for all of us to see in the last year’s tournament, all he wanted to do was just slog. This year, though, he is more selective. 

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