Few would have predicted Australia and South Africa to not make it to the last 4 of this World Cup, especially when more than half of their players are mainstays of their respective IPL franchises. But hey, when did history and big names start deciding the outcomes of cricket games?
England vs New Zealand
New Zealand have examined the pitches like hawks and have come up with bold changes to their sides in order to adapt to the Indian conditions. Southee and Boult, who were at the helm of New Zealand’s last World Cup campaign have had to be content with just carrying the drinks this time round. First time visitors, Santner and Sodhi have been impeccable. Guptill has been amongst the runs and Williamson scored a gritty 45 in the last game. But it’s the middle order which hasn’t been tested yet and that would be a concern for the Kiwi management.
Corey Anderson hasn’t come off as of now and Ross Taylor has looked out of sorts. New Zealand would hope that the big stage brings out the best in these two stalwarts, as England wouldn’t be pushovers.
This new crop of English players has changed the way England approach the white ball format. They are fearless, they are innovative and they are hungry for success.
Root has been instrumental in them reaching this far and Buttler’s innings of 60 odd in the last game to ensure qualification for the English. Hales and Joy have given quick starts but haven’t been able to really kick on. The bowling seemed all over the place in Mumbai but I think it had more to do with the pitch than the ability of the bowlers. They have picked themselves up and have performed well in the last 3 games.
Coming into this game, I somehow feel the England team would be feeling a little more confident than the Kiwis as England have played two games at the Kotla. But then New Zealand’s biggest strength in this tournament has been their ability to quickly adapt to the conditions, which almost nullifies England’s advantage.
Let’s get to the team set up now
As we have 10 transfers, I’ll be going with 8 players in the first game(four from each side) and then 3 from the next game(2 from India and one from West Indies)
Phase 4 has three games and the Fantasy creators have been generous enough to give us the luxury of having ten transfers for these games. Although I do feel that it takes out a little bit of the strategy quotient out of the equation when you provide managers with a lot of transfers, but then we are mere puppets with no say in the rules of the game.
The first player I bring in for this game is Jos Buttler. He scored a brilliant 66 in the last game at Delhi and he also solves the wicketkeeper problem. Dhoni and Ronchi bat too low to have any significant fantasy potential. Charles does bat up the order but I don’t think he will be of much use against the spin of Jadeja and Ashwin.
My next pick would be Joe Root who has been amazing in this tournament with the bat and is England’s Virat Kohli. A batsman who uses technique more than force to get his runs, Root should be amongst the runs on a tricky Delhi wicket.
I omit Hales because scores of 0,17 and 28 do not warrant a selection at this critical juncture. Roy has been in better form then Hales but he has had his share of problems playing spin and against the spin trio of New Zealand, I do not expect him to fair too well.
Coming to the English bowlers, I pick Wiley and Rashid. Wiley has picked up 6 wickets in the tournament despite playing two games at the Wankhede, which speak volumes of his exploits on the other grounds. He bowls up front and at the death which gives him a good chance to pick at least 2 wickets. I pick him over Jordan because Jordan hasn’t got the control that Wiley possess and could go for a lot of runs (his economy rate is 8.76).
My next and last pick from the England side would be based on the pitch report. If it seems like a turning track, I would go with Rashid but because some grass has been laid on the surface for this game (to bind the pitch together), I mostly will go with Liam Plunkett. He bowls miserly and could use his height to good advantage to extract something out of the pitch.
Coming to the Kiwis, my first pick would be Martin Guptill. If the pitch stays true, this man can take the game away from the English in no time. At this stage, I cannot afford to leave him out.
The Delhi track has generally been on the slow side and in order to tackle that I bring in Williamson who has the best technique in the New Zealand team and his man of the match performance in the last game on a difficult batting track is proof of that.
Michael Santner and Ish Sodhi have come out of nowhere to absolutely haunt their oppositions in the World Cup until now. And I do not see that changing on an inherently slow Kotla track. Also, the fact that England have 4 right handed batsmen in their top 4 further strengthens their cause for selection.
But, if during the pitch report, it suggests that the track wouldn’t offer much turn and that New Zealand will bat first, I would get Corey Anderson in for Ish Sodhi (remember this will cause of a 20k rise in team price).
Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Dwayne Bravo make up my eleven for this game.
Kohli’s selection is of no dispute. Bumrah bowls at the death and though the West Indians boast of some power hitters, I wouldn’t fancy them too much against Bumrah’s toe crushers.
The last player that makes up my squad is Bravo. A trusted death bowler, he can come in handy against an unsettled middle/lower order. (If you bring in Corey instead of Ish, go for Suleimann Benn instead of Bravo as I’ll anyway transfer him in the next game).
Apart from Bravo you could also go with Russell as both of them offer similar fantasy possibilities. You wouldn’t be able to go for Gayle as of now because of the budget constraints but with 10 transfers for this phase, you’ll easily get him in for the game against India.
Captain for this game: Jos Buttler (if England bat first)/ Michael Santner(if New Zealand bat first)