IPL 2018 Fantasy Guru: What your team should look like for MI vs CSK
Fantasy cricket tips for the 1st match of IPL 2018, by your trusted Fantasy Guru
Another season of IPL is upon us, which means another season of fretting over our fantasy teams is here too.
The tournament kicks off with the marquee Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings clash, and as usual there are lots of permutations and combinations available that could set your team apart from the others.
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So without further ado, here are the Fantasy Guru tips for the start of IPL 2018:
Season Starter: E Lewis (c), I Kishan, Rohit Sharma, C Lynn, S Dhawan, S Watson/A Russell, C Morris, K Yadav, B Kumar, K Gowtham, R Chahar
Prediction: Top 2 Finish
X-Factor: Evin Lewis
Most runs: Evin Lewis
Most wickets: Jasprit Bumrah
New kid on the block: Rahul Chahar
What makes MI tick
Mumbai Indians all but sealed a playoff spot for the next three seasons of the IPL when they announced the retentions of Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah earlier this year. These are three different players at three different roles bringing in a wide array of skills to the team – top order batting, power hitting vs pace, power hitting vs spin, death bowling, pace and hard lengths.
You put them on the field with any random set of players, and they will become a difficult team to beat. And the players they are going to take the field with this season - Evin Lewis, Pat Cummins, Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya - are anything but random. That is some serious weaponry there.
Lewis and Kishan – Brothers of Destruction
Ahead of the auctions this year, Evin Lewis and Jofra Archer were my two standout picks. And Mumbai got Lewis at 3.8 crores. That is a steal if ever there was one.
Lewis has been in his career-best form the last year and a half, with an average of 40 and SR of 162 in T20s. That he has also had a very impressive start to his ODI career tells you he isn’t a one-dimensional player either.
The left-hander has what I refer to as powerplay shots – a key requirement for a top order limited overs batsman - as he can absolutely demolish spinners and is also adept against pace. This is just about the perfect skill-set requirement for a batsman in the IPL.
And then there is the wicket-keeper, Ishan Kishan, who was bought at a whopping 6.2 crores, a figure that is an accurate reflection of his worth. His batting approach reminds me of Brendon Mccullum, and you know what McCullum is – mad.
Featuring in an exhibition match a couple of weeks ago, the 19-year-old scored a 42-ball century to chase down 200 in 14 overs against a bowling attack that had the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Harbhajan Singh and Shivam Mavi. And that too at the very ground where he will be making his Mumbai Indians debut tomorrow, Wankhede.
Reputation picks – The Achilles’ Heel
The two overseas spots that Kieron Pollard and Mustafizur Rahman (or Mitchell McClenaghan) are set to occupy – that is where Mumbai can be targeted. Pollard’s career has been on a decline for a while now, and Mumbai just don’t look like they are capable of seeing it.
Not just Mumbai, but even Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades in the BBL and Multan Sultans in the PSL have been victims of the Trinidadian's reputation.
Pollard, at his peak, which is between 2012 and 2015, averaged 36.09 with a SR of 149.37 in T20s. But in the last two years, those numbers have come down to 27.43 and 144.59 respectively. The pattern can be noticed in his IPL numbers as well, where there is a difference of six points in both his average and SR.
Mustafizur Rahman, on the other hand, had a stunning start to his T20 career, picking up 57 wickets in 41 T20 matches at the cost of only 6.33 runs per over in 2015-16. But with batsmen getting used to his variations, it has all been downhill since.
In the 23 matches the left-arm quick has played since the start of 2017, he has only managed to pick up 21 wickets and has conceded 8.14 runs per over.
The Big Ben Fix
Mumbai, however, are not without options. They just need to get Ben Cutting in place of one of them, preferably Mustafizur. Cutting is amongst the most destructive pace power-hitters in world cricket at the moment and is in good batting form as well.
There's no better example than his memorable assault on Shane Watson in the 2016 IPL final, which helped Sunrisers Hyderabad win their maiden trophy, to stress the value he can add in the league. Getting him in frees up the Pandya brothers as well, who can then go on an all-out attack against spinners in the middle overs, a role both of them do to perfection.
Unless Mumbai have some new tricks up their sleeve, Suryakumar Yadav and Rahul Chahar should fill the remaining two slots. Underutilised by Kolkata Knight Riders since playing a crucial role in helping Mumbai win their first Champions League T20 title, Yadav will be hoping he gets a role similar to that of Nitish Rana last year.
It will also be interesting to see whether Mumbai are bold enough to back Chahar’s leg-spin.
Chennai Super Kings
Prediction: Bottom 4 Finish
X-Factor: Shane Watson’s batting
Most runs: Suresh Raina
Most wickets: Dwayne Bravo
New kid on the block: Dhruv Shorey
MS Dhoni will be relying heavily on Dwayne Bravo, who since 2017 has been conceding more runs per over (8.69) than ever before in his career, and Imran Tahir, who managed to pick up only one wicket at an average of 175 in the 4 ODIs he played against India earlier this year, to keep a check on his opponents this season. Doesn’t look good, does it?
Given the squad they have, Chennai Super Kings’ best play here is to pair Shane Watson, who has been in great batting form lately, with one of Murali Vijay/Dhruv Shorey and bring in another specialist overseas bowler to support the ageing Bravo and Tahir.
If they fall for the lure of Faf du Plessis or Sam Billings instead, the bowling attack, with the likes of Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh, won’t last long.
However, even if they make the sensible choice they can only delay the inevitable - a group stage exit.
Mumbai Playing XI: Evin Lewis (9), Ishan Kishan (7.5), Rohit Sharma (9), Suryakumar Yadav (5), Kieron Pollard (6.5), Hardik Pandya (7.5), Krunal Pandya (7.5), Pat Cummins (6), Mustafizur Rahman (5.5) Rahul Chahar (5), Jasprit Bumrah (9)
CSK Playing XI: Shane Watson (8), Murali Vijay/Dhruv Shorey/Faf Du Plessis/Sam Billings, Suresh Raina (8), Ambati Rayudu (7), MS Dhoni (7), Kedar Jadhav (7), Ravindra Jadeja (6), Dwayne Bravo (7.5), Harbhajan Singh (4), Shardul Thakur (6), Imran Tahir/Lungi Ngidi
Given in brackets is the season fantasy potential of players involved. The numerical figure is arrived at by assigning values to the chances of them being part of playing XI, their ability, and the opportunity they are likely to get to have an impact.
Lewis and Kishan would be the cheapest of the quality fantasy options available in this match, which makes them my first two picks. The third choice is between Rohit and Bumrah: both equally good, but at the same time, expensive. In such cases, I look at the opposition. The chances of Rohit tearing into this CSK attack is a lot more than Bumrah running through what is actually a decent batting unit. As a result, Rohit gets the nod.
Ideally, you wouldn’t need a CSK player, but if they are chasing and you need a second innings power player, the choice comes down to Watson and Raina. While Watson is no longer the bowler he once was, as long as he rolls his arm over he should still get a wicket or two. And then there is always his batting.
If Cummins doesn’t play, Raina will find it relatively easier, but if he does, eight overs of 140 kph pace bowling from him and Bumrah may just turn out to be asking too much.