So, the second phase of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is done and dusted. As we edge closer to the business end of the tournament, England are the only side to have guaranteed their inclusion in the semi-finals, with impressive victories over Bangladesh and New Zealand in Group A respectively.
There’s still plenty to play for as we approach an epic weekend of Champions Trophy action, which features two mouth-watering encounters between the four tournament favourites.
Virat Kohli (valued at 10.0 – higher than anyone else) and Ben Stokes (9.0) were unsurprisingly the most popular picks in round one, and the India captain also won the popularity contest in round two, featuring in a staggering 61% of teams. Joe Root (9.0) and Steve Smith (9.0) retained their place in the top five most popular picks, with Hashim Amla (8.5) and Kane Williamson (8.0) also present.
A feature of round one was the dominance of touch players, which was reaffirmed in round two; Kohli, Root, Smith, Amla and Williamson are all players who rely on precision over power, and are highly adept at both five-day and one-day cricket.
They are also batsmen that feature in the top three for their country, proving that the higher you bat the more fantasy point-scoring opportunities are available. India openers Shikhar Dhawan (6.0) and Rohit Sharma (7.5) also featured in the top ten highest point-scorers, along with Bangladesh opener Tamin Iqbal (6.0).
Joe Root, the second most popular pick, is the game’s highest point-scorer after round two, with 301 – with 49 points more than fellow batsman Shikhar Dhawan.
Dhawan offers exceptional value at 6.0. In Sri Lanka’s victory over India, the 31-year-old hit his third ICC Champions Trophy hundred– a joint record shared with Chris Gayle, Herschelle Gibbs and Sourav Ganguly. The opener now averages 92.66 from seven ICC Champions Trophy matches. Overall, this was his fifth century in ICC ODI tournaments, in 15 innings.
Alex Hales (6.5) also offers reasonable value, while Kusual Mendis (2.0), who hit 89 in Sri Lanka’s surprise victory over India, is arguably the game’s biggest bargain.
The main lesson is: Pick plenty of batsmen who bat in the top three – trust us, it’s the way to go.
Joe Root at 9.0
Highest point-scorer after round two and a world-beater on home soil
Shakhar Dhawan at 6.0
Top run-scorer in the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, this guy loves the world stage
Kusal Mendis at 2.0
An absolute bargain – the little man is Sri Lanka’s next big thing
No bowlers feature in the top five most popular picks from round two, which suggests the biggest names in the tournament are batsmen, with fantasy gamers unable to collectively agree on who are the reliable wicket-takers.
No bowler managed to match Australia bowler Josh Hazelwood’s 6-52 against New Zealand in round one, but both South Africa’s Imran Tahir (8.5) and England’s Liam Plunkett (4.0) continue to be among the top ten highest point-scorers in the game, at third and sixth respectively.
Pakistan fast bowler Hassan Ali claimed 3-24 off eight overs against South Africa and climbed up the scoring charts, while England’s Jake Ball (2.5) and South Africa’s Morne Morkel (6.0) also contributed strong performances in round two.
Predictably, with the exception of Imran Tahir, who is second in the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings, it is the fast bowlers who are having the most fun English conditions, which is something to bear in mind when you make your next round of transfers.
England’s Plunkett and Ball have had good weeks, so perhaps it is now Mark Wood’s (4.0) turn to come to the party; he’s bowled fast and accurately but with less reward thus far.
Imran Tahir at 8.5
ODI’s greatest leg-spinner – can you afford not to pick him?
Mark Wood at 4.0
England’s x-factor bowler who hurries the best of them
Mitchell Starc at 9.0
The speedster looked at his menacing best when he wiped out Bangladesh’s tail
Joss Buttler (7.5) is the eleventh highest run-scorer in the game with 130 points and by far the highest-scoring wicketkeeper. This suggests this could be the position where you either go for broke with England’s stopper or look for a bargain, enabling you to sprinkle a little stardust elsewhere. Luke Ronchi (3.5) dazzled for New Zealand against Australia in round one in the opener’s spot and has an ODI top score of 170*, but he fell for a golden duck against England. Don’t dismiss 35-year-old MS Dhoni (6.0); he looked in fine form against Sri Lanka with 63 from 52 balls.
Niroshan Dickwella at 4.5
Bats at the top of the order and represents good value
Ben Stokes’ popularity tailed off in round two after injury threatened to deprive him of overs but he is still the highest-scoring allrounder. India’s Yuvraj Singh (6.0) and Hardik Pandya (4.0), along with South Africa’s Chris Morris (6.5), are the other allrounders who have broken the 100-point mark, but they’ve struggled to live up to their round one performances. Sri Lanka were buoyed by the return from injury of skipper Angelo Mathews, who hit a match-winning 52 not out against India. He was only fit enough to bat, however.
Angelo Mathews at 6.0
Sri Lanka’s talisman and highest-ranked batsman