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Fantasy Tips for the Mumbai and Chennai leg of IPL 2021: Rely on Wankhede batsmen, trust the Chepauk bowlers

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Buttler is a no-brainer for the first leg of the tournament

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Fantasy Tips for the Mumbai and Chennai leg of IPL 2021: Rely on Wankhede batsmen, trust the Chepauk bowlers

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Anirudh Suresh

04/09/2021

It’s that time of the year, folks! To finally start caring about ‘credits’, to subtly patronize classmates and colleagues by asserting fan-superiority and to rather shamelessly cheer for players we simply cannot stand. That’s right, IPL Fantasy is here to turn our lives around for the better.

Maybe the last line is a lie. Maybe IPL Fantasy does, in fact, ruin our lives. I mean, think about it. The 30-minute period before the game is a window where you should ideally be warming yourself up for the contest but if you’re playing fantasy, you find yourself stressing out even before a single ball is bowled. And you also find yourself dejected and down on morale even if your team wins because your captain and vice-captain scored ducks. In that sense, Fantasy Sport is like a projection of life: often we find ourselves worrying about the most trivial of things when, in reality, there are far bigger concerns. That said, escapism is what keeps the humankind going and lord there is no better escapism than a cocktail involving Sport and Fantasy.

Anyway, that’s enough philosophy for the time being. Without further ado, it’s time to dive straight into SportsCafe’s Fantasy Tips for the first phase of IPL 2021. 

What’s on the agenda today?

Just one thing and one thing only: we will be telling you who you should be looking to have in your Fantasy XIs for the Mumbai and Chennai legs of IPL 2021. 

Which teams are playing where?

The first 11 days of the competition will see:

Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders play in Chennai.

Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals play in Mumbai. 

What’s the strategy and what does the venue have to do with anything?

Okay, first things first we want to make something clear: the picks and strategy we’ll be suggesting are strictly for the season-long fantasy; Daily Fantasy is a different ball-game altogether and this article does not cover it.

The strategy is as follows: for the first 11 days of IPL 2021, when 8 teams will be playing across just two venues, we advise you to stick to a binary method of picking the players. What do we mean by the term binary? Well, only pick batsmen who will be playing at the Wankhede, and only pick bowlers - spinners, to filter it down even more - who will be featuring in Chennai. And yes, this means that you overlook your Kohlis and ABs and Pollards and Pandyas and Warners although they are the best batsmen in the league.

We understand that some of you might have laughed your head off after reading the last line, thinking this is a satire, but there is actually a method to this madness. 

The Logic

Well it’s stupid, and a bit myopic even, but Fantasy requires you to be smart. It is that straightforward.

The reason why we’ve put forward the radical idea of picking Wankhede-exclusive batsmen and Chepauk-exclusive bowlers is simple: historically, the Wankhede has been a batting paradise while Chepauk has been a minefield. This means that, essentially, the nature of the surfaces almost ends up taking the skill level out of the equation, meaning batsmen, no matter how average they are, will always end up scoring big in Mumbai while spinners, regardless of how skill-less they are, will end up tormenting the batters in Chennai. 

So, while the likes of Kohli, Warner, SKY and de Villiers might look like obvious picks on paper, in reality, however, come the new season, chances are that they’ll find it arduous to rack up the runs, owing to the nature of the surface they’ll be playing in. Someone like a Mayank Agarwal or a Sanju Samson or even a Faf du Plessis, for that matter, might dwarf your marquee stars in terms of run-scoring and boundary-hitting as they’ll be playing in conditions tailor-made for batting. 

The numbers 

Just to make it clear, we’re not peddling bullshit either. The numbers back what we just mentioned.

Among the 6 venues that’ll be hosting IPL 2021, it was the Wankhede that oversaw the second-highest average first innings score (176.14) when the competition was last played in India, in 2019. In comparison, Chepauk had an average first innings score of 144.25 in IPL 2019. Not sure about you, but this tells us that Wankhede is an inherently batting-friendly track.

And remember when we explicitly mentioned that you’ll have to prioritize spinners when picking the bowlers? That’s because in IPL 2019, spinners accounted for 58.42% of all wickets that fell at the Chepauk. But don’t commit the heinous crime of picking spinners who will be playing at the Wankhede; only pick spinners who will be playing at the Chepauk. Wankhede was a graveyard for spinners in IPL 2019, for they took just 20.73% of the wickets that fell at the venue. 

Oh, and yes we have devised this theory based on historical data. Do keep in mind that there is every chance that, come April 9, the Chepauk curator might dish out a flat track. Should that happen, though, we assure you that we’ll issue a public apology and come up with a fresh strategy.

Who to pick from which side

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Where are they playing?

M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Adam Zampa, Glenn Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed. 

Why?

Chahal, Sundar and Zampa are going to be your trump-cards in Chennai and we already told you why. Likewise, the left-arm spin - and some handy lower-order hitting - of Shahbaz Ahmed will be a tantalizing option in Chepauk. And if you’re going to pick a batsman - not recommended - ensure that it’s Maxwell. Not because he is a six-hitter but his off-spin is invaluable. Last season, he had an ER of 6.93 in the middle-overs. Believe it. 

Mumbai Indians

Where are they playing?

M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and Jayant Yadav 

Why?

First things first, Bumrah is Bumrah and the next two picks are, again, self-explanatory. Jayant Yadav can be a real menace in favourable conditions and MI have shown in the past that they won’t be afraid to throw him in. Hardik, here, is the interesting pick but given that his bowling has proven to be invaluable on slow surfaces of late, and not to forget his superhuman hitting ability, picking him might be a gamble worth taking. 

Delhi Capitals

Where are they playing?

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer/Sam Billings/Steve Smith (whoever plays)

Why?

Pfffft. Pant, Shaw, Stoinis and Dhawan on flat wickets - is an explanation really necessary? All we can say is please do not give in to the temptation of picking their bowlers. Please. Don’t. 

Kolkata Knight Riders

Where are they playing?

M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Harbhajan Singh, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell

Why?

The only ‘why’ that needs to be answered is why Kuldeep Yadav needs to be left-out. He’s not better than the first three and Russell is Russell, so ultimately it is a direct face-off versus Narine. Given Narine can provide runs with the bat and has anyway been bowling far better than Kuldeep, it is pretty much a no-brainer. 

Chennai Super Kings

Where are they playing?

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Ruturaj Gaikwad/Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja.

Why?

They’re playing at the Wankhede so don’t be bothered about the bowlers. Both Dhoni and Sam Curran will need to be overlooked because there simply will not be enough scope for the lower-order to accumulate runs in a flat wicket like Mumbai.

Punjab Kings

Where are they playing?

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran and Shahrukh Khan

Why?

It can’t get more obvious, really. An alternative can be to pick Moises Henriques in place of SRK, should the Aussie be a regular in the starting XI. He’ll fetch more runs. 

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Where are they playing?

M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Nabi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman

Why?

One word: Chepauk. Why waste energy picking Warner or Williamson in the hope that they’ll  click? Lay the faith in the SRH bowlers to get the job done and lay it blindly. 

Rajasthan Royals

Where are they playing?

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai

Who should you be picking? (In order of priority)

Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, David Miller/Liam Livingstone and Manan Vohra/Riyan Parag

Why?

Rahul Tewatia is the only contender but given he won’t get many overs to bat and given that he’s certain to get whacked with the ball, his selection is a no-no. The rest pick themselves, no? 

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