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World Cup Fantasy Guru: Quarter-final strategy - Part 1

6.36K   //    17 Mar 2015, 13:12 IST

Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, David Warner, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson – the 14 players you must have for the quarter-finals irrespective of what happens at the toss and what the pitch type is. 

18 substitutions in addition to an unlimited subs window ahead of the 4 matches means you will need to find 15 other players with the maximum potential for points. A lot of it has to do with toss outcomes. One way to narrow down on the choices is to eliminate the players who you should never take at any cost and then look at the remaining ones:

South Africa v Sri Lanka

Guru’s team if Sri Lanka bat first 

A strict no-no – Quinton De Kock, Rilee Rossouw, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kushal Perera, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara and Dushmantha Chameera

De Kock and Rossouw fall in Dilshan’s quota for this match, that is if at all they escape the new ball bowlers. Both these southpaws just can’t play off-spin, be it on any wicket. Thirimanne doesn’t handle pace or swing well; in addition to it, he can’t accelerate, so it would only be a matter of time before he gets out. Both the Pereras will be bounced out, while Kulasekara looks a shadow of a bowler he once was. Even if he swings, he does it at 120 Kmph – which wouldn’t be much of an issue for the Proteas batsmen.

Chameera looks exciting, but he is erratic and young, so it wouldn’t be wise to expect him to deliver against standard players of fast bowling. 

50-50 picks – Faf du Plessis, Mahela Jayawardene, JP Duminy, David Miller, Vernon Philander and Angelo Mathews

To say Du Plessis has been an utter flop in ODIs would be an understatement. For a player who has performed so well in Tests against the best in the business and looks technically adept, I am not sure what stops him from doing well in arguably the easiest of the three formats of cricket. I still contemplated having him in my team given how weak the Lankan bowling line-up is, but then I had a look at how he played Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in their group match against India – which provided enough reasons to leave him out. 

Jayawardene averages 22.9 in 42 ODIs against South Africa, and the No.4 slot is not his strongest suit as well, so that rules him out too. Duminy hasn’t looked convincing in this tournament and chokes under pressure, while Miller and Philander are too one-dimensional to bank on them – Miller can’t bowl, while the only scope for Philander is if he strikes upfront with the new ball. 

Guru’s team if South Africa bat first

Mathews hasn’t exactly set the stage on fire in this tournament and it is not sure whether he will be bowling in the next match, as Lanka are likely to play 4 frontline bowlers and they would have Dilshan and Perera for the 5th bowler quota.

But out of the 6, Miller and Mathews would be my two best bets. I draft them in as well, as we have the cushion of substitutions for this stage. 

Toss-based picks – Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath and Imran Tahir

If South Africa bowl second on the deck, their bowlers could have close to 300 runs to defend; Morkel and Steyn could come into the scheme of things then, as the ball does a bit under the lights and chasing in a high-profile match is never easy. I would go with Morkel for the form he has shown in the tournament and for the fact that not many Lankan batsmen ride bounce well.

I haven’t seen anything so far in the tournament that suggests Sydney will assist spin. In the last game, between Australia and Sri Lanka, close to 700 runs were scored; true, in the game between South Africa and West Indies, Tahir took 5 wickets, but that was more due to the Caribbean batsmen than the deck or the bowler. But Sydney has a history of supporting slower bowlers, so reading too much into these two matches could come back to hurt us. Therefore, I would have the spinner from the team that bowls second as the pitch could slow down as the day progresses.

Malinga hasn’t been at this very best, yes, but he still bowls at the death, which guarantees wickets, and if there is a bowler who can trigger the Proteas choke button, it would be the Slinger. 

India v Bangladesh 

Transfers made – 4; Transfers remaining – 14 (if India bat first)

Rohit Sharma in – Hashim Amla out

Virat Kohli in – AB de Villiers out 

Suresh Raina in – Morne Morkel out

Mohammed Shami in – Rangana Herath/Imran Tahir out 

Guru's team if India bat first

A strict no-no –  MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman and Bangladesh bowlers

While Dhoni, Jadeja and Rahman bat too low, Iqbal is unpredictable and there is no standout option in the Bangladesh bowling unit. 

50-50 picks – Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane 

Shakib hasn’t looked solid with the bat so far, and you don’t expect the Indian batsmen to give away wickets to him. Mahmudullah has already punched above his weight, and he did have his fair share of luck against New Zealand. I don’t see him doing it again.

Rahim bats too low, but he should be at the crease at around the 30th over anyway. The wicketkeeper-batsman has looked the most fluent among the Bangladesh batsmen, so I have decided to get him in Bangladesh bat first. If they chase though, the scoreboard pressure will be too much for the 26-year-old to have an impact. 

Dhawan and Rohit have perished when put under pressure. Bangladesh new ball bowlers have been on target so far; however, they don’t pose an alarming threat for you to overlook the Indian openers. I would have both of them in. As I have been saying it all through the tournament, you just can’t predict who among the top 3 will go berserk on a given day against less threatening oppositions. 

Rahane may be demoted at the cost of Raina if the Indian top 3 gets off to a strong start, which is a real possibility, so that rules him out him as well. 

Transfers made – 4; Transfers remaining – 14 (if India bowl first)

Rohit Sharma in – Hashim Amla out

Virat Kohli in – AB de Villiers out 

Mushfiqur Rahim in  – Kumar Sangakkara out

Mohammed Shami in – Rangana Herath/Imran Tahir out 

Guru’s team if India bowl first 

Toss-based picks – Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin  

If India bat first, I would go in with Raina, as he will be up against a weak death bowling unit. However, if they chase, I don’t see the need for Raina to come into play. The top 4 should seal it comfortably. 

Umesh Yadav could be more threatening under lights, while Mohit is a better bet if India bowl first. Ashwin bowled really well the last time India played at the MCG, which was against South Africa. He could be of value here if India bowl second. The most important thing was that he spun the ball, and even though the Tigers tackle spin with ease, they will, in all likelihood, be chasing a score of 325+ and it will trigger a collapse. 

Combination issue No.1: The rule states that I can have only 6 players from a team; so if India bat first, I have to choose between Raina and Ashwin and I have settled with the former. 

Combination issue No.2: I have opted for Mohit ahead of Umesh in both the cases – India bat first and India bowl first, as you need a budget pick to accommodate the SL-SA match players. In most cases, it should work, but Umesh can wreak havoc on his day under the lights. Let’s hope not! 

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