It’s that time of the year again; a season which is known for the smell of mangoes, the first sip of a chilled beer, and of course, the IPL.
And with the IPL come in those waves of discussions amongst cricket fans. A virtual bat swing here, a team selection selection jibe there and the cricketing experts in India come out in numbers.
There’s just so much energy around the entire event, but somehow, it isn’t channelised in the best way possible.
Also Read: Why you should play the Fantasy League?
Why let Facebook/Twitter get the benefit of your cricketing genius, rather use it in a place that gives you more satisfaction, more sense of belonging, with respect to the game. Log onto the official IPL fantasy website(or even Fandromeda for that matter) and be in charge of your own team, live the IPL the way it is supposed to be.
And no you are not alone, I will be your Fantasy Guide throughout the IPL, guiding you during the most testing of times, times when you feel there is no way out while having to choose between two important players(say you have to pick one from Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers).
I’ll be providing tips for both the official Fantasy League and Fandromeda as well despite its ugly feature of playing the daily challenge in order to get a free sub for every game
IPL Fantasy League
Before we delve into the initial team setup, let’s just talk about the paucity of transfers this time round.
There are just 75 transfers for 56 games, which is less than 1.5 transfers per game. So, you need to hold back initially. The teams would take some time in figuring out their best eleven, the correct batting order, the best bowlers in the middle overs, the best death bowlers etc. So don’t try and go for 50-50 picks at the start of the tournament.
Play it a little safe safe, stick to the basics, and maybe after the 12th game we could opt for some experiments.
The initial team setup is the trickiest as it would form the core of your team for the initial few games, and if left behind, you could get a little desperate and opt for those 50-50 transfers, one’s that will kill your team and your spirit. And only the very spirited go all the way in this 60 match long tournament.
How to go about your initial team setup?
While going through your ‘initial team setup’ strategy, the schedule is of paramount importance.
If a team plays twice in the span of 3 games, you need to stack your team up with at least 3 players from that particular team, as you can reap benefits from those players for two games before you have to transfer them out.
Whenever you view the schedule, look at it for 4 games, from your vantage point. And figure out if there is any team that plays more than once in that cluster of 4 games. If yes, initially opt for at least 3 players from that time, and as the tournament progresses we can figure out the number of players that need to be picked(according to the performance of that particular team).
But when you are setting up your team initially, you need to do a little bit more, you need to look at the schedule from various ‘vantage points’, so as to ensure that you don’t miss out on any schedule benefits that might be on offer.
For example while taking a glance at the initial schedule this time round, you can see that KKR play twice in the span of 3 matches(Match 3 and 5) and hence in your initial team set up you need to have space for at least 2 KKR players, who are sure to play in the XI and would be given ample time to showcase their skills and shower us with Fantasy Points.
Also, do not go for a lot of players from the games that are scheduled later and focus on the first game, as teams might go in for surprise picks and you could have a few players in your team who might not even feature in the first XI.
Thus, I go in with 6 players from the first game between two of IPL’s darlings, CSK and MI.
Mr IPL, Suresh Raina, is the first player that I pick for IPL 2018 and it was only befitting that he be my first pick.
He is returning back to his favourite team and wearing the jersey that has helped him grow in stature as a cricketer. This could be the start of Suresh Raina’s second innings in International cricket and IPL 2018 could be the stepping stone of something really wonderful in Raina’s career, glimpses of which were on display during India’s tour of South Africa.
Raina was batting for his place in the side there, as a dismal series would have put him out of contention for sometime, but it just didn’t look like it, as he fearlessly attacked the bowling coming in at 3 and took up the role of this ‘pinch hitter’, smacking the ball away from ball one.
Come the IPL, and Raina’s role changes a bit, as he is more of the sheet anchor that binds the CSK batting unit together. But he can attack and he will attack and thus you just need to have him in your XI.(no need for any IPL statistics when it comes to Raina).
Rohit Sharma has grown as a player and as a leader in the Mumbai Indians jersey and is an IPL great in his own right. With the game schedule to be held on that road in Mumbai, you need to get in your typical flat track bully don’t you?
Also, right at the outset you need to understand that is very easy to be lured into going for picks that could provide you a ‘differential’, however, at the start of the tournament go in for the usual suspects and create a base for yourself. All the ‘differential picks’ would come in during the middle stage of the tournament, depending on the form, opponent and conditions.
Evin Lewis was always going to be one of the best buys in the IPL this time round and Mumbai with their penchant for buying good overseas openers went in for him and got him for just Rs 3.6 crore, a steal, any day of the week.
Lewis has been in terrific form for the Windies, having scored 468 runs in 14 games at an average of 36 and with a strike rate of 154.97.
Again, you can’t afford to leave him out on that flat Wankhede track.
When you pick an T20 XI during these days and have Jasprit Bumrah at your disposal, you commit a sin if you leave him out.
His death bowling skills are unparalleled and he would be in my team anytime Mumbai take the field this season(and if he is available for selection).
Dwayne Bravo’s powers are on the decline a little bit but he still makes for a good bowler when he has Dhoni guiding him from behind the sticks and solely because of that I would like to try him out for the first few CSK games.
He is a tried and tested death bowler who is known for his knack of piling up those cheap wickets. Get him in, fantasy doesn’t judge if you bowl out top order batsman or tail-enders at the death.
Now, for the last pick I was tempted to go in with one of Thakur and Kishan, but the team combination forces me to go in with Thakur. If you do have the option, go in with Thakur if CSK bowls first, as if CSK bowls second, Thakur might not have the opportunity to bowl at the death. Get in Ishan Kishan then.
Hardik Pandya is the biggest exclusion here, but until I know how MI would be using him in the batting line up, I will not get him in, especially for this game, where he could be taken for plenty with the ball.
Trent Boult, Mayank Agarwal, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Shubman Gill make up my XI.
Mayank Agarwal has been in the form of his life in the Indian domestic circuit and deserves a spot at all costs. He would be opening the batting for KXIP and should be able to give a decent return of 40 points, every game.
Boult will be given death bowling duty in the absence of Kagiso Rabada and is a must have, because of his current form and experience in the IPL.
Rishabh Pant could be a questionable buy but I needed a wicketkeeper for 800,000 and he was the best available option.
Shubman Gill is certain to make it to the KKR XI and could be batting at number 3, if Narine doesn’t open the innings. Hopefully that is the case as Gill was the only player from KKR that I was able to slot in due to budget constraints. I’ll have two games before I have to transfer him out and the exciting U-19 star should be able to give me a return of 50 points at least before I leave him out.
Now, we come to the trickiest part. How should we go with the 2nd innings power player option that has been introduced this time?
This is something that will rely heavily on the toss, but generally try and go in with batsman powerplayers for the second innings, one because chasing is the norm in today’s game and two because dew becomes a huge factor during games in India during this time.
Match Power Player: Jasprit Bumrah(if MI bowl first)/Rohit Sharma(if MI bat first)
2nd innings power player: Suresh Raina/Rohit Sharma(depending on who bats in the 2nd innings
Fandromeda stuck with us when the official league didn’t and thus it only ethical that we stick by Fandromeda’s side despite the official league making an appearance well before the scheduled start of play.
The Fandromeda league system remains quite the same this time round too, with 80 subs provided for the league stage, but there is a slight change with respect to the ‘free sub’ rule which we took for granted in the last 2 years.
This time, if you want a free sub for every game, you’ll need to use Fandromeda’s ‘Daily Mode’ and make a team for the game that you need a free substitution for.
While this does sound like a lot of hassle, but with the official league’s performance over the years, you just have to invest in a backup league, otherwise you could end up watching IPL 2018 as a mere spectator.
And don’t think too much about the hassle of creating a team in the ‘Daily Mode’, just opt for some random team combination and get done with it.
Come on, you owe that much to Fandromeda, don’t you?
Let’s get to business now!
80 subs, 56 games; 2.42 subs per game(if you are diligent enough and get that free sub every game).
So, we do have a little more leeway with respect to transfers for Fandromeda, hence you can take a few 50-50 calls during the start as well.
Now, I had opted for the 6-3-2 strategy(6 from MI and CSK, 3 from KXIP and DD and two KKR) for the initial team setup of the official league, however, for Fandromeda, I would opt for 7 players from the MI vs CSK game, 2 from the KXIP vs DD game and two KKR players, as they play twice in three matches(Match 3 and Match 5).
That one little change from the official league is that I have Ishan Kishan in my team instead of one from Pant or Gill. But let’s first discuss about Ishan Kishan.
The former U-19 captain has rediscovered himself as an attacking batsman in the last 18 months or so, developing the ability to clear the ropes at will. With Mumbai investing heavily in him and the opening slot almost confirmed for him, he could be one of the players to watch out for this season.
Get him in!
Now, who do you leave out? Rishabh Pant or Shubman Gill?
On the face of it, Pant brings in more value than Gill, one because of his IPL and International experience and two because of his wicketkeeping skills.
Also, with Maxwell not available for tomorrow’s game, Pant will for sure be batting in the top 4 making him a force to reckon with.
While, KKR do play twice in three matches, the number of subs at our disposal in Fandromeda do not necessarily force me to stack my team up with two KKR players right from the outset.
Batting Star: Rohit Sharma/Suresh Raina(whoever bats first)
Bowling Star: Jasprit Bumrah/Dwayne Bravo(whoever bowls first)