ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Preview & Top Fantasy Cricket picks

Bored of playing the same old fantasy cricket league? Ready to try something new this ICC Champions Trophy? Read on…

We are excited to announce the free-to-play 1Tip1Hand fantasy league on Fanto.

We think Fanto brings a different approach to fantasy cricket, removing budgets and simplifying substitutions by having an unlimited transfer window after every round of fixtures (4 matches). Registration takes 2 minutes and you can use the league pin BEC50D3004 to compete in our league. Check it out here to make the ICC Champions Trophy even more exciting!

To help you pick your winning combo, we have set out below our team previews and key players. Happy fantasy-ing!

Group A

England, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand.

England

One of the front-runners and favourites to win Group A, Morgan’s merry men have slipped nicely into their groove with a series win over South Africa, the world’s number 1 ODI side.

Players to watch

Ben Stokes

High on confidence, this million-dollar man helped the Pune Supergiant make the IPL finals this year. A game changer with bat and ball, Stokes is an asset any team would love to have. Leading up to the Champions Trophy, he has two centuries in his last six innings. The only question mark remaining is over his fitness..

Jason Roy

Although he’s been in relatively poor form of late, Jason Roy is the man for big occasions. Although he averages just 18 in the last 3 months, his overall ODI average is still at nearly 40 in all ODIs, striking at over 100. England look fierce if he fires in partnership with Hales at the top.

Mark Wood

In a team usually known for their fast bowling prowess, Wood seems underwhelming with just 14 ODIs under his belt at age 27. However, he brings real pace, consistently clocking 148-149 kmph, which can get some serious bite on English pitches. He will be a real threat in partnership with Plunkett and Stokes and his match-winning last over on Saturday will have done his confidence no harm whatsoever.

Bangladesh

Despite having missed out on the last two editions of the ICC Champions Trophy (in 09 and 13), in an unusual twist, Bangladesh is ranked #6 at the start of the tournament, which puts them ahead of both Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Players to watch

Tamim Iqbal

What does one say about Tamim? This little powerhouse has been a key reason for Bangladesh’s success in the past 2-3 years. He even racked up another century in the warm-up against Pakistan, and his current form is superb – he averages over 80 since April.

Mashrafe Mortaza

Captain Mortaza brings as much to the field with his leadership and experience, as he does with his bowling. While not the explosive wicket-taker, he can be relied on to pick up 1-2 wickets per game and keep the economy rate down – his career ODI economy rate is just 4.75.

Mustafizur Rahman

Unlike his experienced compatriots, the 21-year old “fizz” burst onto the scene in 2016 and had a great IPL that year, picking up 17 wickets with the lowest economy rate among bowlers with 13 or more wickets. Opposition batsmen may look to play out his overs but it won’t be easy – he’s picked up two 4-fors in his last six outings.

Australia

The World Cup champions and always a force to reckon with. The Aussies are currently embroiled in a pay dispute with Cricket Australia and have made it clear that winning the ICC Champions Trophy is their priority. Write them off at your own peril.

Players to watch

Pat Cummins

Aussie cricket fans will be thrilled that Cummins returned to full fitness and played lots of IPL recently. Given his incredible run in the 2011-12 season, it’s hard to believe had has just turned 24. In partnership with Starc, Hazlewood and Pattinson, the Aussie fast bowling line-up is the best in this year’s tournament.

Steve Smith

Test average of 61, ODI average of 43, and an incredible test season in India this spring. Smith is Australia’s captain supreme and undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the world at the moment.

Chris Lynn

A rather polarizing figure, Lynn is by no means guaranteed a spot in the playing XI. However, his T20 record is outstanding – he averages nearly 37 at a strike rate of nearly 150 after 92 matches. If he can translate even a tiny bit of that form into the first 15 overs, Australia will be sitting pretty early on.

New Zealand

The World Cup runners-up and winners of the ICC Champions Trophy’s previous avatar, the ICC knock-out, in 2000. The Kiwis are not seen as minnows any longer and their qualification for the semis will not be seen as a fluke or an upset.

Players to watch

Kane Williamson

With an average of 46 and 29 half-centuries under his belt, Williamson is undoubtedly one of the world’s top batsmen at the moment. Those who worried about his strike rate would have been pleasantly surprised by his stunning 89 off just 51 balls in his first IPL 2017 match.

Colin de Grandhomme

A poor man’s Ben Stokes, CdG at age 30 has lots of first-class experience but very little international experience, having played just 9 ODIs. However, with a first class average over 35 with the bat and more than 200 wickets with the ball, he’s an asset at #7 for New Zealand.

Trent Boult

Although he lost his spot to Woakes for most of the IPL 2017 season, Boult offers incredible variety in the powerplay and the death overs. He has 87 ODI wickets from just 48 outings, with an economy rate of under five runs an over  – figures that most fast bowlers would take in a heartbeat.

Group A qualifier predicition: England and Australia.

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Group B

Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India.

Pakistan

Which Pakistan will turn up? Will it be the world-beating team we know they can be or will they lose direction in their first major tournament without Misbah and Afridi? No one knows but it promises to be crazy exciting!

Players to watch

Ahmed Shehzad

Shehzad has been around for many years now and although he is only 25, this is his chance to show that he is a talent to be retained. He has been given a number of chances and even though he has had some promising opening performances in the past, his ODI average is only 33. Pakistan’s strength has always been their bowling and if they are to make it to the semis in the tournament, Shehzad will have to make significant contributions on the batting front.

Mohammad Amir

England is where Amir’s career ended in 2010 and it’s where he made his comeback. As his love-hate relationship with English crowds continues, Pakistan will be looking to Amir for some early wickets and yorkers at the death. He has picked up 50 ODI wickets in 32 matches and on his day can scythe through the best batting line-up.

Wahab Riaz

Wahab will be remembered for his menacing spell against Australia in the 2015 World Cup. He almost single-handedly turned that game around in Pakistan’s favour and, with more luck, would have won it for them. A wholehearted cricketer, expect him to extract some pace and bounce on English pitches!

South Africa

South Africa somehow managed to lose the ODI series against England, raising old doubts about their pedigree at ICC tournaments. Chokers or champions? Only time will tell.

Players to watch

Quinton De Kock

Despite having Amla, DeVilliers and Duminy in the side, South Africa will be looking to De Kock to continue his sublime form. He averages 43 in ODIs and is coming into the tournament with 98 in his last innings against England. He paces his innings fantastically well and his keeping is always neat.

AB de Villiers

ABdV comes into the tournament after a poor IPL but how does one write off the man with the fastest hundred of all time? Expect fireworks from the South African skipper.

Kagiso Rabada

Only 22 years of age, Rabada has proved that he is a genuine fast bowler, one who can bowl at 150 kmph. South Africa will want to unleash him early in the league stage – the other three teams are from the sub-continent and may not be comfortable playing stuff directed at their throats.

Sri Lanka

With their stalwarts retired, a new look Sri Lankan team starts off as the underdogs. They will try hard but lack the firepower to make it out of the group.

Players to watch

Angelo Matthews

Skipper Angelo would want to script a dream story for them – without any super stars, we believe he will have to play a crucial leadership role so that everyone in the team contributes to its success. He will be feeling reasonably confident having picked up a century in a warm-up match.

Thisara Perera

We are picking Perera as one of the key players due to his experience in the last few years with IPL and his all round cricketing ability. He will be important in the slog overs and has a knack of picking up wickets. Although he averages only 17 in ODIs his big hitting can be important especially when Sri Lanka chases

Niroshan Dickwella

Dickwella is an explosive left hand wicket keeper batsman, one that Sri Lanka hopes will fill Sangakara’s boots. While that is a herculean task, Sri Lanka will look to him to continue his aggressive style of batting. He is coming back from a hairline fracture injury and will want to make an impact early in the tournament.

India

Last, but by no means the least, the defending champions. A good mix of youth and experience, anything less than a semi-final berth will be seen as a failure by the adoring fans. Speaking of fans, Kohli’s men will expect noisy homelike conditions with all India’s matches being sold out months in advance.

Players to watch

Virat Kohli

Along with Williamson, Smith, AB de Villiers and Joe Root, Kohli is one of the defining batsmen of his generation. He also seems to relish the added pressure captaincy brings. Averaging a shade below 50 in all 3 formats, he will want to get his hands on his first piece of ICC silverware as skipper.

Ravindra Jadeja

After a poor IPL (5 wickets and 158 runs), Sir Jadeja will be raring to contribute to this Champions Trophy campaign. He has his best results while bowling in tandem with Ashwin and Indian fans will be excited to see the spin duo return to action against Pakistan.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Until recently India’s success relied largely on batsmen and spinners. However, heading into this tournament there has been much excitement about India’s pace attack. Bhuvi, Umesh, Bumrah and Shami have all been in stellar form but Bhuvi for us is the real trump card. He has always been difficult to play with the new ball and has enjoyed English conditions last time around. Now, as his consecutive IPL purple caps demonstrate, opposing batsmen also fear him in the death overs.

Group B qualifier prediction: India and South Africa.

India’s Grand Test Season Ends (2016-17)

3-0; 4-0; 1-0; 2-1.

A football team would have been proud to win by such margins. Except, these are test matches won by India in four series this test season – New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.

P13 W10 L1 D2

A win percentage of 76%. A loss percentage of 7.6%. Incredible numbers.

Pitches

All the talk before this home season was about turning pitches. About how Indian pitches were killing test cricket. About how India could only win on turning tracks.

Of the 13 test matches played this season, there were two pitches that turned square – Pune and Bengaluru. The others were good test wickets. Dharamsala where the Australia series concluded so dramatically was an atypical Indian wicket with pace, bounce and carry.

Tosses

India won 6 tosses out of 13. It is true that every time India won the toss, it won the test. However, India also won 4 games out of the 7 tosses it lost (with two draws and one loss), often coming from behind to beat scoreboard pressure. No luck involved there.

Character

Along the way we found out a few more things about the Indian team:

  • That Pujara might be a slow scorer, but is the backbone of the test line-up.
  • That Umesh Yadav has finally grown into the bowler he sometimes threatened to be.
  • That Saha makes runs when the going is tough.
  • That Ashwin played the Australia series with sports hernia (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Rahul played the last four test matches needing shoulder surgery (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Vijay played most of the season with a wrist and shoulder injury (and will likely miss the IPL).
  • That Kohli with three double hundreds in the season hurt his shoulder trying to save a single run for the team (and will miss part of the IPL).
  • That Kohli will carry the drinks for the team if it means he stays involved.
  • That the Indian team was obviously exhausted at the end of a long season but still put in one last heroic performance in Dharmsala to make Kohli’s India the current holder of the test trophy against every other nation.
  • That, this season, the Indian team this season put test cricket above all other forms.

IPL madness starts on Wednesday. This time, let no one say that the IPL is killing the test game.

We will remember this season of test cricket for a long, long time.

India v Australia, 2nd test, Bengaluru: India stay alive (and kicking!)

It was tea on the third day of the second test match of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2017. One nil down in the series and having conceded a lead of 87 in the first innings, India was ahead by just 33 runs with six wickets in hand. India’s experiment with Jadeja had failed in the last over before the break and Ajinkya Rahane would join the dogged Cheteshwara Pujara for the final session of day three. India were alive in the series, but only just.

That’s when we decided to send out a tweet asking the world at large whether Pujara and Rahane could channel their inner Dravid and Laxman. You see, when it’s India and Australia, with the series one wicket away from escaping India’s grasp, Eden Gardens in 2001 becomes the benchmark for a certain generation of Indian cricket fans.

Almost exactly 16 years later, a similar stage was set. Four wickets had fallen in the second innings of the Eden test when Dravid came in to join Laxman. In 2001, Tendulkar had gone for 10. Here, Virat Kohli fell (a slightly dubious decision, in our opinion) for just 15. Dravid was struggling to lay bat on ball before Eden. Before Bengaluru, so was Rahane. Pujara is a batsman in Dravid’s mould. Rahane is more stylish, VVS like.

Unlike Eden, however, the Bengaluru pitch was not going to hold up for five days. The bounce was unpredictable and the turn was quick and sharp. Lyon had taken eight wickets in the first innings to bundle India out for 189. Jadeja had taken six for India. Surely Australia retaining the Border Gavaskar trophy was a just matter of time.

The first ball after tea kept low and went through Matthew Wade and went for four byes. A sign of things to come? Another third day finish looked on the cards. If there was ever a time to stand up and be counted, this was it.

Like 2001, two unfancied guys took up the challenge. Bit by bit, with their backs firmly up against the wall, first Pujara and then Rahane dragged India back into the match with supple wrists, soft hands and some good luck. The Australians, who had the game (and the series) by the scruff of the neck until then, began to flag. By the end of the third days’ play, Indian fans were believing again. 126 priceless runs ahead with 6 wickets still standing – the 93 run partnership between Pujara and Rahane had changed the complexion of the match. Unbelievably, the momentum had shifted towards India.

The fourth morning brought with it another twist in the tale. Pujara fell in the 90s for the first time in his test career and India’s remaining wickets tumbled to Hazelwood quickly, leaving Australia 187 to chase to retain the Border Gavaskar trophy. It was a tough ask, but not impossible. One good session from Warner could get Australia within sniffing distance.

Renshaw went first to a snorter from Ishant. The dangerous Warner followed soon after lbw post DRS to Ashwin. Marsh was given out lbw and chose not to review after a mix-up with Smith. Steve Smith then decided to look towards the dressing when given out lbw to a “worm burner” from Umesh.

Who knows whether it was deliberate or not. The one thing that #DressingRoomGate surely exemplified the confusion that reigned in Aussie minds at the time. Teams visiting India need a bit of luck, good technique and, perhaps most importantly, clear minds. Smith had cracked under the pressure of the moment. In that moment of panic, Kohli knew that the series had turned decisively in India’s favour.

India proceeded to wrap up the test with Ashwin picking up six to become the fourth bowler in the test to take six wickets or more (after Lyon, Jadeja and Hazlewood). The series was tied 1-1. Bangalore was the site of yet another mini-miracle. 

DressingRoomGate, unfortunately, probably got a bit blown out of proportion thereafter. Smith called it a brain-fade, Kohli made some comments in the post match conference and the boards of both nations got involved. Finally, better sense has prevailed and the BCCI has withdrawn its complaint against Steve Smith and Hanscombe.

As an aside, we rather enjoyed Kohli telling Healy that the pot shouldn’t call the kettle black. In our opinion, Heals should stick to what he is good at (which is NOT being a commentator, for the record). We have offered our services to Mr. Kohli to research his critics further. At the date of writing, we have not heard back.

Where does that leave us for the third test in Ranchi starting on Thursday? Well, for one, Mitch Starc will be out with injury and so will Mitch Marsh. Kohli’s India will be fired up and raring to go. It won’t be an easy ride but we are predicting a 3-1 win to India to win back the Border Gavaskar Trophy and round off this grand season of Indian test cricket. What to you guys think?

The third test match starts at Ranchi on Thursday, 16 March 2017. Remember to subscribe to all our blog updates by clicking here.

 

 

 

India v Bangladesh Test: Preview

In the past seven weeks, India has played against England in all 3 formats . Just over 2 weeks from now, India kicks off a 4-Test series with Australia too. Almost exactly 10 weeks from now, the IPL will kick off with an opening ceremony that is no doubt newsworthy, for better or for worse. That will be followed almost immediately by the Champions Trophy in England. PHEW!

Yet here we are, in the middle of a packed season previewing a standalone test between India and Bangladesh to be played in Hyderabad, from Feb 9-13, 2017.

So how did this Test match find a way into the already crazy calendar? Maybe the BCCI realized that India, despite sharing a border with them, remains the only Test playing nation to have not yet hosted Bangladesh in a Test match. All that is set to change on 9 February 2017.

The last time Hyderabad hosted a test in 2013, Pujara scored a double, Vijay scored a century, Ashwin took a 5-for and Jadeja took 3 wickets in each innings. Kohli will back his top XI and will be looking to warm-up for the upcoming  four test series against Steve Smith’s men with a win here.

Ahead of this (historic?) standalone test, here are a few things we at 1 Tip 1 Hand are watching closely: Read More …

India v England T20 Series: Questions over Indian Team Selection

After a successful Test (4-0) and ODI (2-1) Series, Kohli’s India walked into the first T20 at Kanpur full of confidence but lost by 7 wickets. Just as we said in our preview, T20 England is an entirely different beast.

Virat Kohli has an outstanding 63% win rate in test matches (after 22 tests at the helm), an 80% win rate in ODIs (after 20 ODIs at the helm), so will want to quickly turn around his 0% success rate after his first T20 as skipper.

One key element of a skipper’s responsibility lies in team selection, and India’s 7-wicket loss in Kanpur leaves us wondering whether others would have fared better in the starting XI. Today we look at the 4 men from the 15-person squad who didn’t make the cut in Kanpur. Read More …