IPL 2014: Fantasy Guru - Ranchi shows its face; what does Feroz Shah Kotla have in store?
If you think that you have started a little 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: Mumbai Indians, Kings X1 Punjab, Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals.
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 Ben Dunk, Sandeep Sharma, Jaydev Unakat, Quinton de Kock, and Pravin Tambe 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 upto Rs 1,150 and win Rs 10,000 in cash for every round.
The pitch at Ranchi has always been a mystery. It dishes out a turner one day, and, while we have our teams set for it, the flatter one turns up for the next day. Adjacent pitches of such contrasting nature is never a good news for us fantasy players. Let us hope that the one that provided considerable assistance to the spinners in the Chennai Super Kings vs. Kolkata Knight Riders match continues to get the preference.
The strategies I employ for the forthcoming two days are based on two aspects: wait-and-gauge and a change in team base. I have opted for wait-and-gauge, as I am unsure of the Delhi track, and a change in team base to include a select set of players, as they fit into the Schedule Mantra.
So I am prepared for both losing out on points and taking a hit in the transfer count.
Mumbai Indians vs. Kings X1 Punjab:
Transfers used – 1; Transfer remaining – 47
Ishwar Pandey out – Pravin Tambe in
Jacques Kallis out – Glenn Maxwell in
Captain – Glenn Maxwell/Rohit Sharma (if he doesn’t open)
That Kieron Pollard knock was always coming; I don’t quite understand why he had to that after I drop him, though. These are what frustrate you: You see the scope of a player doing well and get him in before others do; he waits for you to drop him again and score in the very next fixture, in a span of two matches. What added fuel to the fire was the fact that Lasith Malinga, his replacement, wasn’t able to do much.
It doesn’t make much sense having him now, although, with the kind of death bowling Kings X1 have, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he goes berserk yet again. I pin my hopes on the Mumbai top order delaying him. I understand that they are in terrible form, but you never know. All it needs is the top 4 to bat for 15 overs. And, yes, he can get out, too.
If Rohit Sharma continues to bat as an opener, I will have to rethink on my decision to make him a part of the big 3, one that includes Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina – the undroppables. Rohit has never fared well when the ball starts moving around, and I can’t quite comprehend why a think-tank that boasts of Sachin Tendulkar, John Wright, Anil Kumble, Ricky Ponting, etc., decided to go ahead with the ploy of feeding him to Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. However, with him having flopped twice at that position, I hope Mumbai revise their strategy and get him back to a rotational No. 3 or No. 4.
Simply put, when the new ball has some venom in it, he has to be there only after the first 6 overs; strategise accordingly, Mumbai Indians. The fact that many believe that he should be one of our openers for the World Cup 2015 says a lot about the kind of mess the cricketing world is engulfed in, more so when you have a technically perfect player like Cheteshwar Pujara waiting in the wings.
I stick with my two picks – Rohit Sharma and Lasith Malinga – for this game, as any other inclusion would be nothing but a knee-jerk reaction.
Ahead of the season, Ambati Rayudu was one of the bases around which I built my team. While he has got quite a few starts, Mumbai Indians and their bizarre experiments with their batting order means he has to make his way out now. So, this will be his last fixture representing my fantasy team.
Kings X1 Punjab:
The venue for the match – Wankhede stadium, Mumbai – supports stroke players, which calls for the inclusion of both Glenn Maxwell and David Miller. However, with KXIP playing next only after a span of 6 matches, you need to make a decision between the two. Both of them can wreak havoc, but you just can’t overlook Maxwell for two reasons: he bats ahead of Miller and, given the fact that it is a good batting surface, the opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara could take longer to get out.
While Sehwag has shown promising signs, he hasn’t quite inspired confidence in me to pick him, unless and until KXIP’s fixtures fit in the Schedule Mantra.
With the nature of the pitch and the schedule scenario in mind, no KXIP bowler makes the cut.
Uncapped player pick:
The only uncapped player who is worth picking for this match is Sandeep Sharma, who could come in handy against an uncertain Mumbai top order. He is already in my team. Although Akshar Patel could leak runs on the flat deck, I don’t have an option here, as he is in the team, too.
I don’t rate Rishi Dhawan. He is very much a military medium bowler, who could get a couple of wickets on his day. You can’t have him in, in hope of that happening.
I use the uncapped player trick here and get in Pravin Tambe from the next match. Feroz Shah Kotla could very well dish out a turner, and, if it does, watch him bossing the game.
Delhi Daredevils vs. Rajasthan Royals:
Transfers used – 3; transfer remaining – 44
Ambati Rayudu out – Ajinkya Rahane in
Sunil Narine out – Shane Watson in
Akshar Patel out – Lokesh Rahul in
Lasith Malinga out – Sanju Samson in
Captain – Shane Watson
The selection for this match has to be based on the pitch on offer. However, with Rajasthan Royals playing 2 matches in a 3-match round, it doesn’t hold true for the Royals’ players.
I bring in Shane Watson for this game. With the next fixture of the Royals at Motera, Watson could do hammer and tongs against Kolkata Knight Riders, and hence it makes sense having him in the team. Also, he has started to bowl.
Even if the Delhi pitch turns out to be a dust bowl, Daredevils only have Shahbaz Nadeem to bother the Royals’ batsmen.
Ajinkya Rahane makes it into the team for the same reasons, too. As I have already said, I will never have him in my team when the Royals don’t fit in the Schedule Mantra. When they do, though, he is worth a transfer. Ambati Rayudu will be the one to make his way out.
Will JP Duminy bat at No. 3 day in, day out?
We saw Duminy getting promoted to No. 3 in the last match, which was a very positive move. But will the Daredevils management stick to it? This is the question that needs to be answered before getting him in. I am not taking the risk now; therefore, he stays out.
Kevin Pietersen finds himself in fine touch. If Kotla produces a turner for the match, the Royals will draw him out of his comfort zone and force him to attack the likes of Tambe and Rajat Bhatia without him having settled in.
I need to get a clear idea of how the Daredevils go about their plans and the Kotla deck to pick any player from the team. With their next two fixtures fitting in a 3-match round, I don’t want to rush in now and make a mess of my transfer count.
Uncapped player pick:
With Tambe already in the team, the other options worth a consideration are Sanju Samson, Rajat Bhatia and Shahbaz Nadeem. Kedhar Jadhav is ruled out, as he bats too low to make an impact. Nadeem will be up against a batting line-up that has the potential to negate him even on a turner: Rahane, Samson, Stuart Binny and Steve Smith. It comes down to Bhatia vs. Samson. I go with Samson, as I see Bhatia as more of a conservative option who wouldn’t take wickets unless the batsmen try to force the pace.
The problem here, however, is Samson comes at a heavy price for an uncapped player. With Rayudu out of my team, I need a replacement who is as cheap and has the potential to give worthy returns at the same time; only Samson fits the requirements. I bring him in at the cost of a transfer, as he will help form the base of my team.
For the free transfer, I again employ the uncapped player trick to bring in Lokesh Rahul, who now bats at No. 3, from the next match. With the match scheduled at Bangalore, he can help himself to a handy 25-ball 35, which is good enough for an uncapped player.