World Cup Fantasy Guru: Side with batsmen
India v Zimbabwe
Transfers made – 0; Transfers remaining – 8
With 5 Indians already in my team for this fixture – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin, I don’t see why I should draft in any other player. It is not possible to predict who among the Indian top 3 will score the most number of runs, which you might have noticed in the last match. I would have captained Kohli or Rohit, but never Dhawan; as it turned out, the southpaw was the one who returned maximum points, but, of the trio, he was the one who looked most likely to get out early too.
I would go in with Rohit as captain irrespective of what happens at the toss. The wickets could be split, as the deck here offers reasonable assistance to all types of bowlers; therefore, a bowler may not be a great choice here. And there is no outstanding bowling option to bank on, either.
At this point of time, bringing in Zimbabwean players will not yield the desired results. Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams can help themselves to a half-century each, but I don’t see a hundred here. Not to mention, Williams’ left-arm spin will be rendered ineffective by the Indian batsmen, so if he has to contribute, he has to do it solely through bat. Taylor appears a better bet out of the two in case you want to have one.
Australia v Scotland
Transfers made – 3; Transfers remaining – 5
Virat Kohli out – David Warner in
Kane Williamson out – Aaron Finch in
James Anderson out – Glenn Maxwell (if Aus bat first)/ Mitchell Starc (if Aus bowl first)
If Australia bat first, it is straightforward: bring in David Warner, Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell. Given the bowlers that Scotland have, the first wicket partnership should last for a minimum of 20 overs, following which Glenn Maxwell will be promoted at the cost of captain Michael Clarke as it happened against Afghanistan at Perth. It was a toss-up between Smith and Maxwell for the third spot, and you know who is capable of doing more damage. Maxwell’s off-spin could grab a couple of wickets too.
I see the wickets getting evenly distributed, which is why I have gone without bowlers for this fixture. Ever since Clarke replaced George Bailey, the usage of Mitchell Starc has been a little different. He is taken out early from the attack and brought back for a short spell close to the 35th over; a good number of Starc's overs have been reserved for death. Maybe that is how the Australians see him - as a death bowler. It can work wonders against bigger teams, only in terms of fantasy perspective though, but not against minnows.
However, if Australia chase, we will need a bowler, as chances are highly likely that the team’s openers would finish off the chase by themselves. At worst, Steven Smith and Clarke could help themselves to 75 points each, which you wouldn’t miss anyway. But the real problem lies in finding that bowler who could deliver the MoM performance tomorrow.
It is a good batting deck, so Johnson’s bounce will not be a factor, so I will have to settle with Starc and the two Australian openers if Clarke’s side bowls first.
West Indies v UAE
Transfers made – 2; Transfers remaining – 3
David Warner out – Chris Gayle in
Glenn Maxwell/Mitchell Starc out – Jerome Taylor in
From fantasy perspective, this is not as easy as it looks. Both Mohammad Naveed and Mohammad Tauqir are capable of accounting for Chris Gayle. While Naveed is nippy, Tauqir’s off-spin would be a little too much to handle for Gayle. But it is a good batting deck and the boundaries are smaller. Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels haven’t exactly set the stage on fire, so they are not necessarily the better alternatives.
Lendl Simmons bats too low and isn’t exactly the player who is capable of returning big points. Considering all these, a gamble on Gayle doesn’t look like a bad option, so I get him in. That he has started bowling again will only help his case.
The second one would be Jerome Taylor: the safest fantasy option of the match. On his day, he could easily end up with a five-wicket haul too.
Captaincy? I have decided to risk Gayle if West Indies bat first. If they bowl, it would be Taylor. There are reports suggesting that Gayle could be rested for the match due to injury concerns. If it does happen, get in Denesh Ramdin. There is a possibility that Windies can lose early wickets and Ramdin could work in that case, but do it only when Windies bat first. When they chase, just settle with Taylor and captain him too.
Ireland v Pakistan
Transfers made – 3; Transfers remaining – 0
Chris Gayle out – Sarfraz Ahmed in
Rohit Sharma out – Ahmed Shehzad in
Aaron Finch out – Misbah-ul-Haq in
Given the way Sarfraz Ahmed played in the last match, you shouldn't be surprised if I say he will be my captain for this encounter. Ahmed Shehzad could be amongst points too against an attack as bad as Ireland’s, so I grab him in as well. I don’t see how the Irish bowlers can get rid of Misbah-ul-Haq, which makes him my third pick.
Adelaide doesn’t assist pace bowlers much; therefore, I expect the Ireland batsmen to neutralise the Pakistan pace threat with ease. The wickets should be distributed evenly. Shahid Afridi is not in the greatest of touch, so I have decided to settle with just the three Pakistan batsmen. Paul Stirling is already in my side. Ed Joyce and Niall O’ Brien are one-dimensional and may not be missed even if they score heavily.
Given how Ireland played spin against India, Pakistan may bring in Yasir Shah; if it happens, you know what you have to do – grab him. Shehzad should make way then. If you have an extra transfer, make him the fourth Pakistan player.