If you’re a cricket lover, this is a time of plenty. There is a new competition on the horizon as well. The Howzat Legends League Cricket began in Muscat in Oman on January 20. The three squads – the Indian Maharajas, the Asia Lions and the World Giants – are packed with some of the greatest players from yesteryear. And while some may see it as an exercise in nostalgia, millions of cricket fans will tune in to remind themselves why those players were so special in their prime.
If you have the great fantasy cricket app Howzat installed on your mobile, watching these matches becomes infinitely more fun and engaging. And before you know it, another edition of the Indian T20 League, preceded by a mega auction, will be upon us, and there’s another T20 World Cup later in the year.
If you’re keen to play fantasy cricket, but somehow never got around to it, this is the perfect opportunity to get started. Download the Howzat app and explore its features. Team selection in fantasy cricket isn’t quite the same as choosing an XI for an actual match, and there are a few strategies to keep in mind while picking a team that can beat those selected by the experts.
- Choose your captain and vice captain wisely: In real-world cricket, you don’t get any extra runs or wickets for being captain. But on the Howzat app, your designated captain’s points get doubled. For the vice captain, the multiplying factor is 1.5. In the real world, the captain is usually an established player with a consistent record, picked for his temperament and ability to inspire his teammates as much as the skills with the bat or ball. But when picking your fantasy cricket captain, there are no such constraints. You can pick a newcomer enjoying a rich streak of form or a veteran with no leadership track record. All that matters is the points they score. In that respect, selecting a high-quality all-rounder – Shahid Afridi is playing for Asia, Irfan Pathan for India, and Daniel Vettori for the World side – may not be a bad option.
- Be familiar with the playing conditions: In the case of these retired legends, there is no possibility of selection based on recent form. Many of them would have played their last T20 international matches years ago. What you can do, though, is make sure you know enough about the weather and the nature of the pitch. Muscat is quite cool in January, but in the absence of heavy rain, the pitches are likely to be dry and firm. That usually means batting-friendly conditions, though the spinners will also come into play. But with humidity as high as 65% on some days, there’s a good chance of new-ball swing, which means the likes of Pathan and Chaminda Vaas could have a field day.
- Pick specialists: Even with the passage of time, batting skills don’t erode drastically. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Kevin Pietersen may not be as athletic or as strong as they were in their prime, but they haven’t lost the ability to hit a cricket ball. For the bowlers, it’s a wholly different challenge. Those who once bowled at speeds close to 150 km/hr or beyond will now struggle to get past 130 km/hr. The loss of that physical strength has to be compensated with skills like cleverly disguised slower balls. Here again, spinners have an advantage, because the physical demands are not as intense as for fast bowlers. In such a scenario, there’s a good chance that top-order batters will play through the innings. The designated all-rounders may not get more than a few balls to face. New-ball bowlers may well bowl out as well, rather than risk stiffness and soreness creeping in during a second spell.
- Don’t go by reputation alone: There are some huge names on all three teams. However, many of them have played very little in the past few years. There is a second tier of names, though, players who have played either internationals or franchise cricket until very recently. The likes of Kevin O’Brien – who once hit a 50-ball World Cup century against England – Brendan Taylor and Asghar Afghan come in this category. Then there are those like Imran Tahir and Shoaib Malik who are still active at the highest level of franchise cricket. They may not have the records of a Sanath Jayasuriya or a Brett Lee, but they also don’t have a long gap to deal with.
- Try various permutations: Four specialist batters and 3 all-rounders? Or just 2 specialist bowlers and as many as 4 all-rounders? With the free version of the Howzat app, you can play unlimited free games, picking as many as 40 teams in a contest. Try out different strategies until you find a couple that work for you.
Playing fantasy cricket games on Howzat is above all a fun and enjoyable experience. And there’s no aspect of it that appeals to the cricket fan more than the Beat the Legends feature, where the fantasy XI you select goes up against that chosen by Yuvraj, Suresh Raina or Irfan Pathan. You may not have been good enough to play at the highest level, but Howzat offers you the chance to pit your wits against the best and show off your cricket expertise. Once you’ve explored the free app, you can try your luck against the experts on the cash available for download from the Howzat website and win fabulous cash prizes. So don’t wait. Download it now and get playing.
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