IPL Fantasy Guru: The playoff strategy (Updated)
Picking players for knockouts in fantasy cricket is usually tricky. This time even more, because apart from Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli you don’t have any potential high-return Indian capped players from the eliminator match. Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Chris Morris, James Faulkner – all fall under the overseas player category and most of them are expensive. As a result, you will have to transfer out all the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings capped players you pick for the first qualifier after it is completed, which nullifies the double game, triple game value.
Yet another issue is while Ranchi and Eden Gardens are usually known for producing slow, low decks, the BCCI could very well have directed the curators to leave enough grass on the wickets to make it good for batting, as a low-scoring encounter may not be in the best interest of the fans (Pune helps batsmen as well). So there is a lot of risk involved in picking a Ravichandran Ashwin or a Dwayne Bravo, who don’t usually do well on flat decks.
I have, therefore, decided to take it game by game and not look too much into the double game advantage.
Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings
The deck at Wankhede does provide some assistance to quality bowlers, be it a pacer or a spinner, but batsmen enjoy their time here, especially in IPL. Such decks usually expose the Chennai Super Kings bowlers’ limitations, so I bring in both Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma. It would take someone to bowl a brilliant spell of fast bowling to get rid of these two at their home; I don’t see any Super Kings bowler capable of doing it.
With Brendon McCullum not available and Suresh Raina not at his best, the Super Kings top 3 can implode anytime. If it happens, Mitchell McClenaghan will escape with a lot of points. That he comes in at just 800K helps the budget too.
MS Dhoni has been threatening to come good for a long time now and has always played himself at No.5. I expect the Mumbai bowlers to make short work of the Super Kings top 4, which would give plenty of batting time to the 33-year-old. Even if not, he has shown an inclination to promote himself ahead of Faf du Plessis in case of a good start. So either way, he has a good chance to deliver. This along with McClenaghan could be your differential.
Raina, again, makes the cut due to the lack of better Indian options in the Super Kings side. If he gets through the new ball, I see a big contribution from him today. Dwayne Bravo is an eyebrow raising omission, but I have always mentioned that I wouldn’t pick him if the deck is good for batting. His strength is his slower deliveries and cutters, which don’t grip on a flat deck to make life difficult for batsmen. He bats at No.7 and Dhoni has at times not even given him his full quota of overs, which, from a fantasy perspective, is a huge concern.
If you pick Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard will get promoted. If you pick Pollard, Rayudu will come in at No.4. I have had enough of this, and I am not ready to take the risk again. It is advisable to bank on more certain options instead. There isn’t much to choose from the uncapped players in this match. It totally depends on how lucky you are.
Note: Yes, the first playoff was a complete disappointment. But as I had said previously, this is the issue with knockouts, be it in any tournament: weird things happen. You wouldn't be able to do much.
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals:
This has to be yet another high-scoring encounter. While Royal Challengers Bangalore do have a decent bowling attack, Rajasthan Royals have the batting might to counter it.
In a match that will be decided by how well the batsmen from either side fare, it shouldn’t surprise you that I bring in Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers into my team. I have always had Mitchell Starc, and since I expect RCB to get the better of the Royals, I rope him in for the double game value.
The crucial decision, though, was in deciding between Steve Smith and Chris Gayle. If one of the Royals openers gets out early, Smith would boss the game completely: this is just the kind of bowling attack and deck for him to deliver. Gayle, on the other hand, can be sorted out by Chris Morris and Watson. I have seen Watson get the better of Gayle almost every time they have met in the recent past. In addition to it, Gayle opening would mean the Royals would use everything they have to get rid of him.
Again, there isn’t much to choose when it comes to the uncapped player section. I have opted to go with both Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal, as Sanju Samson and Karun Nair may not get enough deliveries to make an impact. Even if Pravin Tambe plays, Kohli and De Villiers would nullify his threat.