posted on 2018-05-22 16:08:40
posted by Rohit Sankar
The business end of IPL 2018 is here and while quite a few of you might be out of teams to support, you always have your fantasy teams (and with infinite transfers!) to bank on. If the league phase of the IPL hasn't gone well for you, now might be a good time to set things right and build a new squad, but make sure you don't do it like the Royal Challengers Bangalore and leave it for the batsmen to thump bowlers.
We can help with that a bit, though, by identifying what players to bank on, what players not to pick, what players are must haves in your side and the etceteras. So here we go with a team by team analysis after which we arrive to the final squad formation.
Chennai Super Kings
Must haves: Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Lungi Ngidi
Ambati Rayudu was the Man of the Match both times these two teams faced off and is a must have in your line-up. MS Dhoni has a pretty good record against Sunrisers Hyderabad's bowlers and is in red hot form. It makes no sense to leave him out, particularly with the other keepers (barring Karthik) not being in great touch. Lungi Ngidi on the Wankhede surface could blow teams away and leaving him out could hurt you big. In fact, he’d be among my captaincy options.
Good optionals: Shane Watson, Deepak Chahar, Suresh Raina, Shardul Thakur
The fact that Shane Watson opens the innings makes him a player you want to have but is doubtful to have on current form. But if Watson does fire and you don't have him, it could leave you with a gaping hole to fill for the remaining games. Same goes with Suresh Raina who has a pretty good record in play-offs. Deepak Chahar is dangerous with his opening spell and was splendid for CSK this season. If he fits into your team dynamics, pull him in ahead of Siddharth Kaul.
Preferably don't pick: Sam Billings/Faf du Plessis
Neither of them might open the innings and with them coming below a pretty stable top order and the fact that Dhoni could promote himself above them make the two a poor option to have.
Don't go near them: Harbhajan Singh, Dwyane Bravo
Both have been out of form, leaking runs more than a panchayat tap and are not among wickets either. Pick them at your own risk.
X-factor pick: Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja could be a decent differential if the Mumbai surface offers a bit of turn. He is turning it square and bowling pretty well this season and Dhoni has shown a tendency to promote him in the batting order. If you are unsure of that one position in your team, pick Jadeja.
Must haves: Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan
The two have a great camaraderie and have notched up three of the best six stands in the season. They are reliable, stable and in superb nick. Pull them both in at any cost.
Good optionals: Shakib-al-Hasan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shreevats Goswami, Alex Hales (if he plays)
Shakib is the most enticing of options here given that he can do a bit of both. That Chennai's bowlers have been really good could give him a longer stay at the crease which further increases his fantasy value. Pick him without batting an eyelid. Hales could be a decent option to have if he plays but Bhuvneshwar isn't as great given his current form. That said, a spicy Wankhede could wake up his inner demons.
Preferably don't pick: Siddharth Kaul, Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite
While Kaul has been terrific for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season, I’d rather not pick him for his tendency to leak too many runs - he gave over 40 in three of his last four games. Manish Pandey has been hit or miss and Brathwaite might not play much of a role even if he plays.
Don't go near them: Yusuf Pathan
Pathan may not even bat or bowl and could waste a spot in your team. Don't pick him.
X-factor pick: Sandeep Sharma
Sandeep Sharma has been terrific in the powerplays and a vulnerable Watson and Raina could just fall into his swing at Wankhede. He is a decent pick to have in the side.
Must haves: Jofra Archer, Rahul Tripathi
Jofra Archer bowls at the death and has been terrific in the powerplays too. At Eden he could prove to be a handful for Kolkata. Tripathi, meanwhile, is back opening and has shown great signs of regaining the form that made him a promising youngster in 2017. Have them both for the second match.
Good optionals: Heinrich Klaasen, Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal
Klaasen could be a decent differential to have with his elevated role in the Rajasthan outfit. Gowtham, meanwhile, seems to have regained some confidence and could come in handy, particularly against Narine, who took him on for some runs the last time these teams met. Gopal’s sharp turn could bode well at Eden and he can be a good pick against Kolkata's slew of right handers.
Preferably don't pick: Ben Laughlin, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson
Laughlin, Rahane and Samson haven't been in great form and none of them seem good enough to go into the XI at this stage.
Don't go near them: Stuart Binny, Jaydev Unadkat
Binny, like Yusuf, may not bat or bowl and is a spot wasted while Unadkat's form has been pathetic.
X-factor pick: Ish Sodhi
Ish Sodhi could just be the X-factor pick you need particularly if you lag behind that office colleague of yours. He isn't a favorite option in everybody's fantasy team and his strengths suit the Eden surface. Pick a dare and choose him.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Must haves: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn
Chris Lynn is slowly finding his mojo and the Rajasthan line-up has little threats for him. Sunil Narine's inclusion doesn't need much of an explanation given his exploits with bat and ball.
Good optionals: Dinesh Karthik, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla
Pick Dinesh Karthik if Kolkata are chasing. The skipper has literally lifted the whole team with his exploits down the order. Kuldeep Yadav could also be a handful against the Royals’ vulnerable batting line-up.
Preferably don't pick: Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi
While the two are quite decent bowlers, from a fantasy perspective, neither seem to offer enough for you to gamble on them.
Don't go near them: Shubman Gill, Javon Searles
Don't get me wrong seeing Shubman Gill in this category. The youngster is an absolute delight to watch but with his current role in the side, I don't see him offering great fantasy value.
X-factor pick: Andre Russell
Russell has been amongst the wickets and could be a good X-factor pick. That said, his batting role has diminished with Karthik stepping up and you could by-pass him.
How the team can shape up initially
With 10 transfers at your disposal and four matches to spread it by, there are quite a few tricky hurdles to jump past. Initially, the fact that one of CSK and SRH could play again in two days means you pick atleast 7 players for the first match. I’d go a step further and choose 8.
Batsmen: Rayudu, Dhoni, Williamson, Dhawan
All-rounders: Chahar, Shakib, Watson
This gives me a good mix of batsmen and bowlers and covers up for most of the batting and bowling requirements. I have openers from either side and the fall-back options (Shakib and Dhoni) and also have decent bowlers from one team. I chose not to pick a Sunrisers bowler with Rashid's less than impressive record against Chennai Super Kings.
You have three spots remaining for which you could split 2-1 between Kolkata and Rajasthan Royals. Given that Rahul Tripathi can be brought in as an uncapped player after the first game, it wouldn't be too wise to have him unless you plan on both him and Gowtham/Rana. I have filled my overseas slots, so I cannot have Lynn and Narine initially, though both could come in for the next game. Same goes with Archer.
Batsmen: Rahul Tripathi, Robin Uthappa
Bowlers: Kuldeep Yadav
With this team, I could use up 3-4 of my transfers + an uncapped one to fill up for the Rajasthan Royals - Kolkata Knight Riders match. It is best if you reserve majority of the transfers for games in Mumbai for they promise to be high scoring ones.
Another promising approach which I found useful was to predict the winner of the second game (in this case, I would go with Kolkata) and load up on players from that side for the eliminator game. That way, if you get your team right, you don't have to waste another transfer for the qualifier two.
Final squad before first play-off match
Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Tripathi, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson, Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni, Deepak Chahar, Shane Watson, Shakib-al-Hasan, Lungi Ngidi and Kuldeep Yadav