IPL 2019 Fantasy: Steve Smith and Jofra Archer among top picks for KKR v Rajasthan Royals

Ashish Peter 25/04/2019
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Archer and Smith are the in-form men for the Royals. Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

The 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) season heads into match 43 with Kolkata Knight Riders set to host Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

As fans, watching the action is not the only thing to look forward to – IPL fantasy games mean you have the opportunity to get involved as well.

As the IPL’s official partner, Dream11 runs a daily contest for each game apart from the default format which is conducted per round.

Here, we focus on helping you navigate your way through the former.

BATSMAN

Steve Smith – Rajasthan Royals (9.5 credits)

The former Australia skipper had struggled for large parts of the campaign on his return to the IPL after a one-year absence but has now started to come into his own.

The decision to bestow the Rajasthan captaincy on him seems to have worked wonders with the right-hander stitching together two fluent half-centuries on the trot since taking the reins.

With Jos Buttler having returned home to England, Smith will once again have to shoulder the burden of anchoring the innings and that is something he clearly relishes.

He seemed to be hampered by his elbow injury at the start of the tournament but the shots are now flowing off Smith’s bat and a third straight half-century is not out of the question.

BOWLER

Jofra Archer – Rajasthan Royals (9 credits)

There has been no standout bowler for KKR in the 2019 edition with all-rounder Andre Russell being the side’s highest wicket-taker (seven) so far and as such, Rajasthan’s Jofra Archer is a straightforward pick.

The soon-to-be England capped pacer has been the shining light for the Royals with the ball throughout the campaign despite the team otherwise struggling in the bowling department.

The Barbados-born man has claimed 11 wickets so far in his 10 appearances while his economy-rate has been an excellent one at 6.74.

The Eden Gardens pitch has some swing and zip for the fast-bowlers early on and Archer could really profit from the conditions to swell his wicket-tally.

ALL-ROUNDER

Andre Russell – Kolkata Knight Riders (10.5 credits)

Russell has not only been the best Kolkata player on show with ball this year with the West Indies all-rounder also leading the way with the bat.

The muscular 30-year-old has battled injuries and niggles throughout the competition but has still managed to deliver the good for his side time and time again.

With the bat, there has simply been no stopping ‘Dre Russ’ with the right-hander amassing 392 runs so far at an average of over 65 and a strike-rate of nearly 218.

With the pressure mounting on KKR, there is every possibility that Russell is sent in to bat much higher up the order and that could translate into a flurry of sixes at the Eden Gardens.

WICKETKEEPER

Dinesh Karthik – Kolkata Knight Riders (9 credits)

Even though it has been his Rajasthan counterpart Sanju Samson who has had a better IPL 2019 campaign, it is Dinesh Karthik who gets our nod for the wicketkeeping slot.

The veteran wicketkeeper has only averaged around 20 with the bat this year with just the one-half century to show for. However, with the chips down for Kolkata and the noose tightening around his own neck, Karthik will be eager to bounce back with a strong display on Thursday.

In KKR’s three matches against Rajasthan in the 2018 edition, Karthik managed scores of 52, 42 and 41. The KKR skipper clearly relishes playing against the Royals and they could be just the opponents he needs to reignite his and the franchise’s IPL 2019 campaign.

Plus, Karthik will also want to shut up the critics who have questioned his selection over Rishabh Pant in India’s 2019 World Cup squad.

CAPTAIN: Andre Russell

VICE CAPTAIN: Steve Smith

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Rohit's form in the spotlight as Mumbai Indians look to avoid wobble against Chennai Super Kings

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Rohit Sharma's form is coming under question.

Two surprise losses to Rajasthan Royals in their last four games have Mumbai Indians nervously looking over their shoulder in the race for the IPL 2019 playoffs.

The other two games in that run were wins against Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, and they could have put some distance between themselves and the other play-off challengers.

They’d love to be in Chennai Super Kings’ position, qualifying early. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side took care of business by beating Sunrisers Hyderabad last time out to end a run of two straight losses. Now they can relax and watch the carnage below.

CHENNAI TO ROTATE AND TEST DEPTH?

With Chennai having already qualified, the team can start to test its depth. Faf du Plessis, the only batsman who has shown consistent form this season apart from Dhoni, could be rested with Ambati Rayudu given the opener’s slot. This will give the 33-year-old an opportunity to build on his solid innings from previous matches.

There’s also the possibility to test out players like Sam Billings and Scott Kuggeleijn, who have made only a handful of appearances so far – or David Willey, who ended up playing a key role at the back end of last season. Billings’ inclusion would allow Dhoni to take a break as well – he’s already missed one match this campaign due to back spasms.

It’s always risky to make wholesale changes and perhaps CSK would want to wait until they seal top spot, but expect some rotation nonetheless.

TIME FOR ROHIT SHARMA TO FIRE

A return to the top of the order for Rohit Sharma was supposed to help both the captain and his team this season. Mumbai have done reasonably well, putting themselves in a strong position to reach the playoffs.

But the move hasn’t worked quite as well for Sharma. The India opener has a top score of 48, one of only two innings where he’s crossed 40. The soft dismissals that have always been a frustrating part of the talented batsman’s game have been more frequent this season, while his struggles against spin are becoming more pronounced – he has now been dismissed by three of the last four balls of spin he’s faced.

A loss for Mumbai here could be the start of an untimely wobble. It’s the perfect chance for Sharma to turn his season around – especially with opening partner Quinton de Kock set to leave for South Africa soon.

LIKELY XIs

Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande

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Ravi Ashwin claims Kings XI Punjab were never outplayed during their poor run of form

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AB de Villiers smashed a 44-ball 82 to help Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Kings XI Punjab and ensure that they lived to fight another day in the Indian Premier League.

Virat Kohli’s men claimed their fourth victory in five games as Punjab’s woeful run continued.

Visiting captain Ravichandran Ashwin felt that the team could have shown more composure in pressure-situations. However, the spinner maintained that they were never outplayed by any opposition despite the poor run of form.

“There can be so many places where I thought we lost the game, but honestly in a T20 game it’s all about winning those pressure moments which we have not been able to win in the last few games,” he said.

“If we had actually held onto those crunch moments, we might have had a couple of more points or probably four points but that’s that, we weren’t able to close it out and we got some experience in the middle order couldn’t really close it out in the crucial moments today.

“It’s all about getting one win together and we can get on a roll like RCB won three in a row now, so it’s all about getting one win and then we go back home and then we probably try to win a couple on the trot. It’s very important to keep trust in the players.

“We held onto giving players enough opportunities to try and come out on trumps. It’s important to back the players. In all the eleven games we played to be brutally honest, we haven’t been outplayed by any opposition which is a great positive for us. The one area we could really work on is the powerplay and the back-end finishing.”

Kohli, meanwhile, is glad that his team are enjoying their cricket and believes that this has helped them pull out four wins in the last five games. The Indian skipper wants the team to make a statement, as the world takes note.

“We won 4 out of the last 5 we have played, it could have been 5 out of 5. We are just looking to enjoy our cricket. Tonight was another example of having fun. The partnership of ABD and Stoinis changed the match for us,” he said.

“At one stage we thought 175 was good but AB and Marcus got us past 200. The way they played was the deciding factor. Our only focus was to play good as a team, we know that we are a good side, losing 6 in a row hurt all of us. That big break before Mohali helped us.

“It is important that we don’t take any pressure. We just need to play how the world knows we can play. When two left-handers came in, we got a lot of dot balls and that was a crucial factor for us. Having 6-7 bowling options is a luxury for any team.

“I can pick and choose who is bowling well. Marcus brings in a lot of balance to our team. It was an outstanding effort by the bowlers today.”

Despite changing the game with the bat, De Villiers deflected the credit to the bowlers who did well to hold Punjab at the death.

“I tried to stay calm in the last few overs. It is not easy always, the game is happening at a rapid pace. We know our home ground very well, it hasn’t been a great hunting ground for us to start with but we are turning things around now. And we are doing things well now,” said the South African.

“We are doing good as a team now. I still think 160 was a par score but it gets easier in the second innings. Our bowlers executed their plans to perfection in the end.”

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