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World Cup Fantasy Guru: Ring in the changes

Fantasy tips from the fantasy guru for the official ICC fantasy cricket game

England-New Zealand has turned out to be the first off-pattern game of the World Cup. You can’t predict such outcomes; the earlier they happen, the better it is for the fantasy managers who don’t benefit from them. There isn’t much to worry in this case, though. Tim Southee was with only 10% of the managers, while Brendon McCullum was with 25%. 

This article will cover the four matches for the weekend. Before we move on, since a few of the following substitutions may lead to confusions, I would like to clarify something: The Australia v Bangladesh fixture is likely to get washed out. It has been heavily raining for the last couple of days at Brisbane and a cyclone is forecast for tomorrow. Keeping that in mind, I have employed a low-risk move and removed the Australian players from my team to facilitate further substitutions.

The cushion of 34 substitutions means even if it does happen, you can rope in players and still carry on without much of a damage. But if it doesn’t, this ploy could be a masterstroke. 

Also, James Anderson has to be dropped, contrary to what was planned, as there are too many high-profile substitutions to make and his 100K price tag doesn’t allow any of it to happen with him in the side.

Pakistan v West Indies

Guru’s team for the Pak v Windies match

Transfers made – 5; Transfers remaining – 29

Ross Taylor out - Lendl Simmons in (for budget reasons)
Trent Boult out - Jason Holder in
Josh Hazlewood out - Yasir Shah in
James Anderson out- Jerome Taylor in
Mitchell Starc out - Mohammad Irfan in

Captaincy pick – Yasir Shah/Misbah-ul-Haq

When two below-par batting sides clash against each other on slightly conducive wickets, the first thing that you need to make sure is to get in a couple of bowlers at least. Jason Holder was extremely unlucky to not end up with wickets in his column in the loss against Ireland; he generated steep bounce, moved the ball off the deck, and, despite the mayhem caused, ended up with an economy of 4.88. He will only relish bowling against Pakistan batsmen. 

For Pakistan, a choice needs to be made between Mohammad Irfan and Sohail Khan. While Sohail has shown his potential at the death, there are still doubts over his ability to pick up wickets with the new ball. Mohammad Irfan, on the other hand, strikes upfront consistently and has a brilliant record against the Caribbeans as well: 12 wickets in 6 games at an average of 17.61 and economy rate of 3.83. Not just that, his records against two of the top ODI outfits at the moment – South Africa and New Zealand – have also been impressive: 33 wickets in 17 games. 

These numbers and his new ball skills make him a better pick, and I find it very difficult to go against him despite his no-show against India. That West Indies struggle against spin also necessitates the need for a slow bowler. Shahid Afridi is too costly to fit in, so I will have to settle with Yasir Shah.

With West Indies scheduled to play twice in a span of 6 matches and both their oppositions – Pakistan and Zimbabwe – don’t have many accomplished batsmen to boast of, I believe it would be good if we rope in yet another bowler from the team. Kemar Roach wasn’t in his elements in the team’s last match. Jerome Taylor looks the next best option; therefore, I include him as well.

Lendl Simmons bats too low, and he will be facing much better bowling attacks – to repeat his Ireland feat; however, he has to be drafted in to make sure the team combination doesn’t turn into a mess for the remainder of the matches.

I don’t see Marlon Samuels surviving the leg-spin duo of Afridi and Shah. Denesh Ramdin is a specialist wicket-keeper and isn’t Adam Gilchrist to sort out the entire team to accommodate him. Rest of the Caribbean batsmen don’t really deserve a mention. 

Australia v Bangladesh

In the unlikeliest of circumstances, if this match does happen, I would bring in one of the two Australian openers. At the moment, I am inclined to go with David Warner. There isn’t much of a choice, though. You could even pick Aaron Finch if Warner doesn’t fit in your budget. 

Steven Smith is likely to get demoted, as returning skipper Michael Clarke will take the No.4 spot. I don’t see Smith playing a bigger role in the match, especially if Australia are chasing. That explains why I would not have Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh as well. As far as the bowling side of it is concerned, Mitchell Starc is already in my side. Mitchell Johnson could easily wreak havoc too. I may be tempted to bring him at the last minute, but, as of now, I am settling with Starc. 

I don’t expect any of the Bangladesh players including Shakib Al Hasan to return points in this fixture. Shakib isn’t as good when it comes to playing fast bowlers, more so when the boundaries are bigger. 

(In case of a 30+ over match, replace Irfan, Williamson and Misbah with Warner/Finch, Starc and Johnson and accordingly continue)

Afghanistan v Sri Lanka

Guru’s team for the Afghanistan v Sri Lanka match (if SL bat first)

Transfers made – 2 (3); Transfers remaining – 27 (26)

Yasir Shah out - Rangana Herath in
Mohammad Irfan out - Lasith Malinga in
Misbah-ul-Haq out– Kumar Sangakkara in (only if SL bat first)

Captaincy pick – Lasith Malinga/Kumar Sangakkara

Sri Lanka specialise in routing minnows. So, I don't see Kumar Sangakkara having a major role if they chase. But if the Lankans bat first, make sure you get the southpaw in, for he could make plenty. Tillakaratne Dilshan is already in my team.

Rangana Herath has been in some decent form and could end up bagging some cheap wickets, which necessitates his inclusion. Lasith Malinga is feeling his way back, and, truth be told, he was still better than most death bowlers we see these days in that match against New Zealand; the onslaught by McCullum and a few extras damaged his figures. I would gamble on him here and get him in. He could be the differential. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that I am not considering any Afghanistan players. 

India v South Africa

Guru’s team for the Ind v SA match

Transfers made – 5; Transfers remaining – 22 (21)

Rangana Herath out – Hashim Amla in
Lasith Malinga out - Virat Kohli in

Kane Williamson out – Dale Steyn in
Steven Smith out - Morne Morkel in
Misbah-ul-Haq/Kumar Sangakkara out - Moeen Ali in (for budget reasons)

Virat Kohli would be the only Indian batsman who will make his way in. South Africa are a different kettle of fish, and I don’t think it is a good idea to have any of the Indian openers and Suresh Raina despite their good performances of late considering the kind of bowling they will be facing. None of the Indian bowlers seem to inspire confidence too. 

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers will undoubtedly feast on the Indian bowlers, so it is no rocket science that I would have them in my side. When it comes to the bowling side of it, there is no real reason as to why I should leave out Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. While Morkel can be carried till South Africa’s next match, which is against West Indies, Steyn is most likely to make his way out for James Anderson ahead of England’s match. 

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