A mega Indian T20 League auction is almost here, ahead of what promises to be another epic season. There’s also the T20 World Cup later in the year, with India having a new captain as they try to win it for the first time since 2007. Across the country, millions of fans trust a fantasy cricket app like Howzat to increase their enjoyment of following such events. Watching the game no longer needs to be a monotonous experience. With Howzat and its many contests, each ball of every match comes alive. Here we look at some strategies to maximize your winnings when you play the cash version of the game.
1. Don’t leave anything to chance
The greatest cricketers, such as Virat Kohli, are the ones who leave nothing to fate in terms of how they prepare. You should approach fantasy cricket the same way. You can pick a team in a couple of minutes and still score a lot of points. But to select an XI that can take on the best of players and help you win leagues, there needs to be much more effort.
Apps like Howzat often provide match previews and statistical insights before big games and tournaments. You can build on that by checking out cricket and news websites for the latest developments. Be aware of which player is carrying an injury, who is just out of Covid-19 quarantine, and who has a fraught relationship with the team management. All these factors contribute to your team’s performance after all.
Before a match, check out the statistics of the previous games played at the venue. See how recent matches between the two teams playing have panned out, and check individual players’ numbers against their opponents. The information gleaned from such research is invaluable for picking an XI.
Most importantly, do a final check for any team news half an hour before the start of play. Pat Cummins was in everybody’s XI for the second Ashes Test in December 2021 before dining at a restaurant near someone who was Covid-19 positive saw him sent into isolation. The last thing you want is to go into a contest with your captain (2x points, remember?) not even playing!
2. Make sure your choices are format-specific
There are very few players – Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Cummins are 3 notable exceptions – who are adept at each of the three formats. A common mistake many newcomers to fantasy cricket make is to pick players in one format based on their reputation in another.
R Ashwin has been the world’s most consistent Test bowler for half a decade. But he’s rarely influenced matches in ODIs and T20Is. Kohli continues to churn out the runs in white-ball cricket, but hasn’t had a great record in Tests in recent times. MS Dhoni wasn’t half as good a T20I player as he was in ODIs, where he was unquestionably one of the greatest.
The old adage about form being temporary and class being permanent is a useful one, but not when picking a fantasy cricket team. Given a choice, always pick the player in red-hot form.
3. Fantasy cricket is similar to the real thing, yet different
Broadly speaking, there are many similarities between how you pick an XI for a battle on the field, and how you select a team to win a fantasy cricket competition. But it’s vitally important that you recognize the differences too. In T20 cricket, for example, miserly bowlers are greatly prized. But while you do get points for economical spells in fantasy cricket, there are far greater rewards when the bowlers you pick take wickets. In real-world cricket, you don’t want two bowlers taking 2 for 40 in a 4-over spell. You’d rather they each took 0-24. This is not the case with fantasy cricket, where the points they fetch you for those wickets outweigh wicketless economical spells.
Actual cricket teams are also usually restricted by templates when it comes to selection. A Test XI will rarely have more than one all-rounder, if that, while most ODI sides won’t have more than 2. In fantasy cricket, you don’t need to be as reliant on specialist batters and bowlers. If you feel 4 gifted all-rounders will fetch you more points based on the scoring system, you can go down that route. The game’s rules allow you the flexibility that actual team selectors just don’t have.
4. A new face can also be a leader
Perhaps the biggest difference between fantasy cricket and the real thing is when it comes to leadership. There’s no extra weightage or credit given for leading the side on the field. But when you play fantasy cricket on Howzat, your captain’s points are doubled, while the vice captain’s score is multiplied by 1.5. Traditionally, teams have very few options when it comes to captaincy. It usually goes to the most experienced player or the most consistent one, or to the individual who’s a certain pick across formats. Many factors are considered before a choice is made. Left-field options such as India choosing MS Dhoni to lead at the T20 World Cup in 2007, or South Africa giving the reins to 22-year-old Graeme Smith after the World Cup debacle in 2003, are quite rare. In fantasy cricket, however, you can be as funky as you like. Want to make a new Under-19 recruit your captain? Sure you can. Think the mystery spinner will run rings around the opposition? Make that player the leader! Captaincy in fantasy cricket is all about reading the current form of players correctly. All other factors are secondary to that.
If you follow these guidelines, your XI is going to be a match for those chosen by skilled fantasy players from across the country. If you’re especially confident of your selection skills, you can even take on greats like Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, and Irfan Pathan using Howzat’s Beat the Legend feature. So don’t wait! Download the app and get playing. Apart from adding spice to your cricket-watching experience, there are so many lucrative prizes to be won!