In a weekend packed with crucial fixtures in the ICC Champions Trophy, England takes on Australia inSaturday’s Group A encounter at Edgbaston – with Australia requiring a win to qualify – and India plays South Africa at The Oval on Sunday, with both sides needing a win to secure a semi-finals berth. How does that affect your Fantasy CT17 selections? We’ve done all the necessary scouting and strategising so you don’t have to.
Dangerman: Ben Stokes (9.0)
With England on home soil, in fine form and set for the semi-finals, its players are an obvious choice for your fantasy team – and few are in such good touch as Ben Stokes. The IPL MVP hit 48 and took a crucial wicket in the host’s last match versus New Zealand. A livewire in the field, Stokes promises all-round points possibilities to your side – hence his high value. It’ll be a tough choice between him and Joe Root (9.0) if you only have budget for one of England’s big guns, but Stokes has a habit of turning it on against the old enemy.
Last five ODI scores: 1, 34, 25, 101, 48
Last five ODI figures: 1/27, 0/14, 1/12, 1/42, 1/46
Dangerman: Steve Smith (9.0)
Australia’s players haven’t had much of a run-out so far, with both their matches ending in no result due to weather. But when they fire, it’s likely to involve performances from some combination of Smith, David Warner (9.5) and Mitchell Starc (9.0). The Australia captain – not out in both abandoned chases so far – is the side’s fulcrum at No. 3 and his tally of eight centuries and 16 fifties in ODIs so far barely scratches the surface of what he can achieve. With the Aussies requiring a win to go through, expect their skipper to stand up.
Last five ODI scores: 108*, 49, 4, 8*, 22*
Dangerman: Shikhar Dhawan (6.0)
The guy just loves tournament cricket. Having dominated the run charts in India’s successful 2013 ICC Champions Trophy campaign, the left-handed top-order man is at it again this time around, with 68 against Pakistan followed by 125 in the eventual defeat to Sri Lanka. His overall ICC Champions Trophy average is now 92.66. He’s almost guaranteed runs; even if his team’s total ends up being chased down as it was by the Sri Lankans, he’ll earn you points.
Last five ODI scores: 78, 1, 11, 68, 125
Dangerman: Hashim Amla
He’s already hit one ton this tournament and has plenty of runs in the locker of late. He loves batting in England, with a superb average of 61.53 from 16 ODIs, and is never content with simply reaching three figures. Remember what a guy he is to back when he’s going well: he’s turned four of his 25 ODI centuries into 150-plus scores.
Last five ODI scores: 73, 24, 55, 103, 16
Wildcard: Liam Plunkett (4.0)
Perhaps unexpectedly, the strapping England quick is the tournament’s leading wicket-taker and so, valued at just 4.0, represents sensational value. He’s surprised a few batsmen with his pace and aggression and has managed to take wickets at the top of the order as well as picking them up caught on the boundary near the end of the innings. Indeed, no one has taken more wickets than him in ODIs in 2017. If he continues the form that’s brought him four scalps in each match so far, you can scarcely afford not to pick him.
Last five ODI figures: 3/23, 1/42, 3/64, 4/59, 4/55
Absolute steal: Adam Zampa (3.5)
Not one of Australia’s most high-profile names but a prolific wicket-taker, Zampa is epic value at 3.5. He was introduced to the attack late against Bangladesh but promptly took 2/13 – and it’s fair to say Australian leg-spinners have a strong history of succeeding against England. The 25-year-old has an impressive record – 36 wickets at 27.88 with a strike-rate of 30.8 – across his 23 ODIs to date and there’s no reason he can’t earn you some points in this crucial game.
Last five ODI figures: 2/66, 3/55, 1/61, 0/41, 2/13
Absolute steal: David Miller (4.0)
For the South Africans, David Miller is cracking value. A powerful hitter at the death, he proved with his unbeaten 75 against Pakistan that he’s versatile and capable of making big scores (and earning big fantasy points) whatever the situation. Plus, with bonus points on offer for boundaries and sixes, he provides a tremendous ceiling to maximise your point haul!
Last five ODI scores: 51, 11, 71*, 18, 18*
Since the end of the last ICC Champions Trophy in 2013, England and Australia have played each other in 18 ODIs, and Australia have won 13 of those. However, those games all came before the England team’s revamp under Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan; since then it has become far more threatening in 50-over cricket. Not only that, but the England skipper himself has a strong record against Australia – averaging 42.22 with three centuries.
Top transfer tip:
It’ll all depend on how many of your 20 group-stage transfers you’ve used up so far. There are just three games left until you’re given unlimited transfers ahead of the semi-finals, and you might judge that – stacked with high point-scorers as they are – these games represent a good time to splash the cash. Alternatively, you could save up all your transfers for the final group match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, stacking your team with players from those nations and potentially making a killing against competitors with no more transfers available.