India, Steve Smith, match winning performance; these three words/phrases have stuck together for too long now. Steve Smith is rewriting the batting manual, and how! Flicking literally every ball to the leg side, forcing the bowlers to stay away from his pads and keeping a cool head under pressure, Steve Smith has certainly changed the idea of batting in subcontinental conditions.
Though Mumbai Indians succumbed to a loss, they will have to be credited for thinking straight and getting Buttler to open the innings, something that seems very logical, but could have taken Mumbai half a season to figure out. And while they did get that part of their plan right, they messed it up big time with their bowling combination. Keeping Pollard as your 6th bowler is a sin, and a grave one at that. He is someone who should be used in the nets when the batsmen want to practice hitting balls out of the ground, and not during competitive games.
The Rising Pune Supergiant would be mighty pleased with the way Tahir, Smith and Rahane played. Also, they need to be lauded for benching Faf Du Plessis, a move which was bold and which allowed Smith to flourish in his preferred number 3 spot.
Mumbai need to go back to the drawing board again and somehow find a way to draft Harbhajan Singh in, even if it means dropping Parthiv Patel and handing over the gloves to Jos Buttler.
Let’s get to business now!
Gujarat Lions vs Kolkata Knight Riders
After a long cricketing season, both teams are without a few of their stars, but do have able replacements in the dug out to provide a lot of oomph to this fixture. Gujarat have made a very smart buy in Jason Roy and he should be deployed from game 1 at the expense of the out of form Brendon McCullum. Dwayne Smith should open the batting with Aaron Finch slotting into the middle order.
Jaddu isn’t the same force to reckon with in the shorter format(he took just 8 wickets in 40.1 overs for GL last season) as his wicket to wicket predictable lines can be exploited to the core by innovative, new age batsmen. And while his presence in the field will be dearly missed, his bowling skills wouldn’t have accounted for much anyway.
Also Read: Do’s and Don’ts for the IPL Fantasy League
The Kolkata Knight Riders have had a simple formula all through. Restrict oppositions by choking them with spinners in the middle overs and then chasing down the total in a very suave manner with the help of their top 3. Whenever they fail to stick to this formula, they end up on the losing side. And while they had Andre Russell’s late order heroics to feed on for the past few years, this year it feels that a top order blip could mean curtains for them. Unless, of course Lynnsanity takes over.
Chris Lynn will have to act as their lynchpin this season if they are to have any chance of making it to the top 4. While Chris Woakes and Trent Boult are smart buys, I don’t think they can replace Andre Russell’s brilliance.
IPL Fantasy League
Transfer out: Shane Watson, Jasprit Bumrah, Nitish Rana
Transfer in: Chris Woakes, Kuldeep Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav/Ishan Kishan
It’s been a rather decent start to the season with the first two games fetching me 801 points(with a rank of 28,420). You would want to be in the top 10,000 by the end of game 15.
Players in the consideration set: Jason Roy, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Trent Boult, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Gautam Gambhir, Kuldeep Yadav.
Now, as I have stacked my squad up with RPS players(3 of whom are Foreign players), I can just get in one out of all the aforementioned overseas players into my squad.
The toss, the kind of wicket and the dew factor plays a huge, huge role in this. I would generally love to have Jason Roy in my side, but he’ll be up against two quality fast bowlers in Boult and Woakes and thus I resist the temptation(I also feel he might be left out in favour of McCullum).
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum do not play the spinning ball well, a universal fact, and when it comes to KKR, there is no one better than them in using spin to their advantage, again a universal fact. With the likes of Narine and Kuldeep in their ranks, and the Rajkot pitch generally having a little something for the spinners, I don’t think it is wise to waste that one overseas spot on either Smith or McCullum. Aaron Finch bats in the middle order, a position where he’ll have to do a lot of scoring against Narine and I don’t favour him to come out on top in that contest.
The one sure shot change that you should go for is getting in the high soaring chinaman from India, Kuldeep Yadav. He had a wonderful Test debut against Australia and was able to muster 4 wickets in the first innings because of the extra bounce and spin that he could generate from his chinaman. In the T20 format, while you don’t have close in fielders, it is very difficult to accelerate against a spinner who gets the ball to bounce more than the batsman expects, as it hits the batsman high on the bat and the batsmen could get holed out in the deep.
Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir haven’t been in the best of nicks in the domestic circuit(Uthappa was even left out of the Karnataka squad). Manish Pandey could make way for Chris Lynn at number 3 and this early in the tournament I would like to put my money on bowlers as they are a much safer bet than batsmen.
Yusuf Pathan isn’t someone whom you can bank on, especially at this stage of his career. Bring him in only if he plays a few innings of substance.
Now, for the one foreign player slot, there is three way battle between Chris Lynn, Chris Woakes and Trent Boult.
I have time and again mentioned that Fantasy is a bowlers game, and with this year’s rules, where there is no deduction of points till the bowler concedes 10 runs per over, you should always prefer bowlers to batsmen, whenever it is a 50-50 call.
Thus, that rules out Chris Lynn, and I would go for one from Boult and Woakes. I am opting for Woakes as Boult is just coming back from injury and Woakes’ all round skills provide me with multiple scoring opportunities. He is bound to fetch you at least 60 points.
For the uncapped player, I will bringing in one from Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan, depending on which ever team bats first. I can’t bring in a bowler because of the squad balance, if you somehow can, get in Shivil Kaushik for sure.
Captain: Chris Woakes(For his al round abilities)
antasyI am opting for the same changes in Fandromeda(without the uncapped one, of course) with the addition of Suresh Raina. I get in Raina for Rohit Sharma. No matter what they say about this guy, he has been a revelation in the IPL, making that number 3 spot his own and pacing his innings to perfection all through. He can also give you those 20 points while bowling and will definitely provide you with at least 10 fielding points every game. Get him in!
I did not include him in my IPL Fantasy team because there is a paucity of transfers there, but with the kind of track record that he has, and with the Fandromeda authorities being generous enough to provide us with 80 transfers, you should get him in. Also, he’ll easily fit into the batting star category.
Batting Star: Suresh Raina
Bowling Star: Chris Woakes