Can you believe we’re one weekend away from the end of the Playoff Stage of the IPL? The fantasy cricket slog overs have begun so make sure your teams have our picks to make the most points. Sunday has two games – KXIP v SRH and MI v DD.
Match tip #46: KXIP v SRH
The teams: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will need a near-perfect 3 final games to end on 14 points and have a good enough run rate to qualify for the playoffs. Although their track record suggests this is unlikely, the 7 wicket win over reigning champions MI on Friday will give them some real confidence. SRH on the other hand have had a dream run that saw them land at the top of the table – however, SRH are coming off a tough 7 wicket loss to DD. SRH will be hoping that the blip in Mustafizur’s form is a one-off; in the first 10 games he bowled 37 overs for 229 runs, picking up 13 wickets at an economy rate of just 6.18. Against DD, he leaked 39 runs at 9.75 per over without any wickets. “The Fizz” will be pumped up to bounce back on Sunday.
The venue: IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali. One of the most unpredictable pitches this year, Mohali has helped seamers, spinners and batsmen at different times this year. In the last game here, KXIP fell 1 run short while chasing 176 against RCB. Expect another batting friendly track where bowlers will have to really work for their success.
Our picks for your fantasy team
Marcus Stoinis: Not really a household name before the IPL started, Stoinis has proven to be a handy all-rounder in the KXIP squad. Average of over 30 with the bat, and 8 wickets, Stoinis has managed to stand out with his seam even as Sandeep and Mohit have led the way with the new ball. Vijay will rely on him to try and break through the strong SRH top order.
Shikhar Dhawan: After a quiet WT20 and weak first few games of the IPL, fans were beginning to forget what made Shikhar Dhawan such a critical fixture in the Indian side. With 3 half-centuries in his last few games, Shikhar has made an impact to help keep SRH winning even when Warner failed. He has proceeded to rack up 377 runs at an average of nearly 54; however will want to work on his strike rate that is just over 114 this year.
KC Cariappa: Though he had a poor outing against Mumbai, his googly against a left-hander heavy SRH top order should not be under-estimated. If his seam bowling partners can pick up a few early wickets, Cariappa will be called upon to try and dismiss the Hyderabad middle order cheaply.
Match tip #47: MI v DD
The teams: This will be breath-taking match India’s biggest metropolitans- both DD and MI need to win. MI need the win to have a realistic chance in the competition for a playoff spot while DD will want the win to strengthen their position within the top 4 as their next 3 matches are against with RPS, SRH and RCB. Both sides have strong batting lineups but the openers have been hit or miss. De Kock has been impressive but he needs a opening partner so DD may give Rishabh Pant a chance to open with him. DD have felt like the more united squad – driven by the Zaheer and Dravid’s influence – while Mumbai have sometimes come across a bit more disjointed.
The Venue: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam. Mumbai have lost both their games here so far, once batting first, once batting second. The batting failed in both instances, with Mumbai losing 13 batsmen in the single digits across the two games. This pitch has been seamer-friendly.
Our picks for your fantasy team
Chris Morris: With two Man-Of-The-Match performances in the course of the tournament, it was surprising to most that this million dollar player was dropped for a game this season. After he was left out and subsequently brought back in, he responded with a tidy 1-19 against SRH. He is tied with Tahir as Delhi’s most economical bowler this season, and his hitting ability with the bat make him a solid Fantasy Cricket pick.
Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu has quietly racked up 321 runs for MI this season, second only to Rohit Sharma, and has done so at an average of nearly 30 and a strike rate of nearly 120. With Mumbai struggle to nail an opening partnership that has so far included Rohit pairing with Parthiv, Unmukt, Simmons and Guptill, the side has come to rely on Rayudu’s stability at #3 or #4.
Nitish Rana: Brought in for Hardik Pandya, Rana has showed some serious potential in his 2 short innings with MI this IPL season. While his strike rate so far is an unimpressive 87, he is known on the domestic circuit for some blistering knocks including a 40-ball 97, so Rohit will rely on him to tee off against Delhi.
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(Original cover artwork by Ishita Mohanty. She tweets here.)