You play for days like these, when all that the crowd in the stadium wants to do is to chant your name. You train hard so that no matter how many stalwarts the opposition possess, it is you who becomes the talk of the town. You dream of days when you can instil fear in the opposition’s hearts and dismantle them to the extent where there is no coming back. Tim Southee and Brendon McCulum did something of this sort today.
They played like champions and etched their names in World Cup history forever.
The New Zealand vs England game was touted to be one of the most interesting games to watch out for. It was supposed to be a battle of equals, with the balance slightly tilting towards the Kiwi side because of their recent ODI form. No one would have expected this outcome, no one could have expected such a battering.
England were bowled out for a paltry score of 123 on a surface that wasn’t demonic. Perfect execution of bowling skills on Tim Southee’s part and the inability of the English batsmen to apply themselves at the start of their innings led to their downfall. The batsmen were too inept to handle quality swing bowling.
But the humiliation for England did not end there.
McCulum, with all his hitting prowess, took the English bowlers to the cleaners. Suddenly the ball stopped swinging around, suddenly the ball started hitting the middle of the bat and suddenly the pitch turned into a flat batting paradise. Taking nothing away from Southee, but maybe the demons were all in the head of the English batsmen, or maybe the English bowlers were not good enough to extract some assistance from the pitch and the conditions.
A brilliant knock from Mcculum. You would expect him to thrive in such situations. 123 on the board, the game almost in the bag, nothing to lose, time to unleash power handle. And how well did he execute it. A combination of clean striking and poor bowling made a mockery of the already meagre English total, which the Kiwis chased in just 12.2 overs. A perfect performance from the Kiwis and lots to ponder about for the England team.
West Indies vs Pakistan
Transfers out: Tim Southee, Kane Williamson
Transfers in: Misbah ul Haq, Sohail Khan
Both these teams have had an ordinary start to the tournament and a defeat in this game could further plunge their hopes of making it to the quarter finals.
I already have three West Indian players in my team(Jason Holder, Andre Russell and Marlon Samuels) and would not be transferring in any more Windies into my side. Gayle and Smith have been too erratic when playing for their countries and wouldn’t be able to cope with the swinging conditions in New Zealand. Maybe when the Windies play in Australia you can get them into your team, but as of now they would have to stay out.
Pakistan is predictably unpredictable. Their top order is a joke, Umar Akmal has been wasting his talent and our time for the past 4 years and Boom Boom Afridi is not even worth considering. Misbah is Pakistan’s lone warrior and with his calmness he would be the only one to be amongst the runs in pace friendly condition in Christchurch. I have brought in Misbah in place of Kane Williamson.
Coming to the Pakistani bowlers, Sohail Khan impressed in the last match by bagging a 5-fer and makes it to my side in place of Tim Southee. I opted for Sohail over Irfan because Irfan would be a more lethal bowler on bouncy wickets rather than conditions that assist swing bowling.
He hits the deck hard and thrives on the ball that climbs on the batsmen, making it impossible to get him away. But the New Zealand conditions wouldn’t assist him in doing that and that is why I did not opt for him.
You could also go in for Wahab Riaz, my only reason for preferring Sohail over Riaz was that Sohail is a much frugal investment and would ultimately give the same amount of points, if not more than Riaz.
Power Player pick
You could go in with either Sohail or Russell depending on which team bowls first, because the early moisture in the wicket would trouble the opening batsmen. If you do not plan on waiting up till 3 a.m. in the night for the toss, then go with Russell. His all round ability is bound to fetch you a lot of points.
Trump Card of the this match
Sohail Khan is my trump card for this match.
Australia vs Bangladesh
Transfers out: Misbah Ul Haq, Sohail Khan
Transfers in : David Warner, Mitchell Starc
A completely lopsided encounter with Australia expected to easily overhaul the Bangladeshis. Now, it would be wise to take at least 3 Australian players for this game, a batsmen and two bowlers. Right? NO! Do not do that.
The weather could play spoil sport tomorrow. Heavy rains have been forecasted for tomorrow and we could be in for a rain curtailed match or even a possible washout. This could be the worst situation to be in for a Fantasy Manager. Do you make the transfers or do you hold back?
Hold back for the time being.
The Gabba pitch has seen sunlight for the past three days and if we get in a match tomorrow, the pitch will have something in it for the bowlers. Mitchell Starc is the perfect exponent of swing bowling at a high pace and he would surely make it to my side. Mitchell Johnson could be another pick but only if Australia bowl first.
Michael Clarke will come in for George Bailey for tomorrow’s game and that means Smith gets demoted to number 5 and Maxi to number 6. In a rain curtailed game, I don’t see the number 5 or number 6 batsmen making any significant contribution and thus I wouldn’t opt for them in this game.
Do not go in with Clarke for this game. Let us give him some time to settle in to the tournament and reap rewards later, when he is at his supreme best. I am tempted to go with Warner for this game because only a top order batsmen can make a significant impact in a short game. I’ll bring in Warner for Misbah. But I’ll still wait for the toss and weather conditions tomorrow.
Do not rope in the transfers for this match just yet. Stay calm, sleep early and wake up early in order to get the weather news for tomorrow’s game.
Power Player pick
Mitchell Starc will be my Power Player for tomorrow’s game. He could run through the Bangladeshi batting order with his lethal swing bowling.
Trump Card for this match
Shakib Al Hasan is my trump card for this match.
It is funny that on a day which the two most unpredictable sides(Pakistan and West Indies) face each other in Christchurch, the weather would give account of its unpredictability in Brisbane. Do check out this space tomorrow for Day 8 analysis and Day 9 fantasy tips.
Happy team picking