World Cup 2019: ESPNcricinfo's fantasy cricket tips

Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor congratulate each other as they both notch up fifties Getty Images

So you are an avid fantasy cricket player looking for recommendations for your XI before every World Cup game? Look no further than ESPNcricinfo's rolling fantasy blog, where we bring you picks from our expert fantasy players, including the global IPL 2019 fantasy champion, ESPN staffer Arjun Namboothiri, and Gaurav Sundararaman, the former analyst for various T20 teams and a fantasy cricket nerd. If you're playing daily fantasy contests, our five must-haves and trump cards should have you covered. Also, we'll keep track of how our picks fare in each game. Here we go!

Game 33, New Zealand v Pakistan, Birmingham

Arjun Namboothiri, June 26

Are you a dreamer? Then you must know that Pakistan are going to win this game. Are you a realist? Then you must know that New Zealand have the upper hand. Are you neither? Then you must know that this game is as unpredictable as any. We are talking about Pakistan here, so let's do the smart thing and not be smart with our predictions. A cracking, high-stakes game on offer at Edgbaston.

Your five must-haves

  • Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor - Every New Zealand game, these two are offered as a combo pack. New Zealand's two most reliable batsmen are also their two most in form at this World Cup. In fantasy land, you only need to go as far as their last game to make your picks from their batting line-up. If you want history, Williamson averages 55 and Taylor averages 65 against Pakistan. Numbers from their recent ODI series against Pakistan in UAE make Taylor a slightly preferred pick.

  • Mohammad Hafeez - Hafeez has got starts at this World Cup but hasn't got to a hundred yet. Time for a big one you would guess? He would be eager to convert his 40s and 80s to a ton. With three left-handers in New Zealand's top order, Hafeez also has the potential for a wicket or two. And that my friends, is why you shouldn't ignore him for this game.

  • Lockie Ferguson - With 14 wickets at an average of 15 and an economy rate of 4.76, Ferguson is having a splendid World Cup. Remember West Indies' bounce barrage against Pakistan? Sorry to remind you about that Pakistan fans, but if that is anything to go by, Ferguson will be flexing his muscles for this game.

  • Babar Azam - A no-brainer. Pakistan's best ODI batsmen has two fifties and a 48 already at this World Cup. Pakistan will hope he can score big in an important match - even more so following England's defeat to Australia. It's time for Babar, known for his level-headedness, to show what he's got in a high-pressure game. If you are brave, he is a great pick for the captain's arm-band as well - unless we have jinxed him already.

The budget buys

  • Colin de Grandhomme - De Grandhomme already has a feel of Edgbaston. He smashed 60 in New Zealand's win over South Africa. Runs he can offer, but there are wickets in him too. He has picked up wickets in every New Zealand game so far at this World Cup, but we are mainly picking him for his big hits. He is an outside pick to satisfy your risk appetite.

  • Haris Sohail - Ah Haris, where have you been? Has a senior player been taking your slot? What? Not anymore? His 89 in the last game against South Africa is enough reason to pick him, but scores of 41, 50, 75 scattered over his last seven innings in England give us hope that he has the potential for another match-winning innings. Pakistan have to win, and if their top order fails, Haris will need to step up.

What we're watching out for

There's plenty on offer: New Zealand's first big test, Pakistan's semi-final hopes, a great contest between bat and ball. On paper, a cracking game.

Game 32, England v Australia, Lord's

Gaurav Sundararaman, June 25

England have not beaten Australia in a World Cup match since 1992, while Australia have won only one match in their last 10 encounters against England. Australia require a win to qualify to the top four; England need a win to reduce some pressure after that shock defeat to Sri Lanka. Who are the players likely to help these teams win?

Your five must-haves

  • Joe Root and David Warner - Form is vital in a tournament like the World Cup. Root and Warner have both scored two centuries and have been key in setting up the foundation for the middle order to attack. In a high-pressure game, both would be looking to perform for their respective teams. Both batsmen do not have any significant weakness. If they survive the early overs there is a good chance they will reward you with fantasy points

  • Pat Cummins - His consistency with line and length could be useful on the Lord's pitch. Cummins can make use of the slope with his accurate bowling and if the conditions are overcast, it will suit him. Cummins had a poor game by his standards against Bangladesh, when he could not take a wicket

  • Mitchell Starc - England have used the services of Arjun Tendulkar in the nets to help them create similar angles that Starc does. Starc has been the go-to bowler for Finch this World Cup and has taken at least one wicket in his last 14 World Cup innings. He will use the slope to his advantage. If conditions are similar to the previous game played at this venue, Starc should be able to do some serious damage against the English batsmen

  • Jos Buttler - Many pundits predicted Buttler to be the Player of the Tournament. After starting off with a hundred and a fifty, his last two innings have yielded just 2 and 10 respectively. He is too good a player to miss out again, and there's no better time to show his prowess than against the Aussies. Buttler could be the player England turn to in this crucial match

The budget buys (with bonus dark horse)

  • Usman Khawaja - Khawaja showed what he is capable of in the game against Bangladesh, scoring 89 in quick time. With the openers providing a good platform in almost every match, Khawaja's role has been to build on the good starts. Back to his regular No. 3 position, he'd be looking to make a mark in his first ODI against England

  • Moeen Ali - Moeen has some very good match-ups against the Australian batsmen, namely Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith. He has dismissed them on three or more occasions and would be looking to build on that streak. However, if England decide to go with an extra pace bowler, it would be interesting to see which spinner they drop. So far in the tournament he has been the one to miss out

  • The dark horse - Nathan Lyon could come into the picture, having had some good performances over England in Tests and the warm-up match before the tournament started. If he plays, he is not a bad option to have on the Lord's pitch

Game 31, Afghanistan v Bangladesh, Hampshire Bowl

Srinath Sripath, June 24

On paper and current form, this might seem like an utter mismatch, but given how close a battle this has been in recent times, Bangladesh would be relieved to get through with two comfortable points. Afghanistan, remember, are going to be playing their second game in three days, at a ground that must be a lot more familiar to them than it is to their opponents. Expect a close fight.

Your five must-haves

  • Shakib Al Hasan - Pick him because, Shakib. Because he's two players in one. And because he's probably the only player across all teams at this World Cup who's both his team's best batsman and best bowler

  • Mohammad Nabi - Nabi might take exception to that line on Shakib, his IPL team-mate, because he's been no less a talisman for Afghanistan. He reminded everyone of his value with a stellar all-round performance against India. Playing on the same ground, Nabi is poised to have another good day, at the very least, with the ball in hand

  • Rashid Khan - He hasn't had the greatest of tournaments, struggling early on and even conceding the worst figures by anyone in a World Cup game. Showed signs of return to form against India, on a pitch that had something in it for the spinners, with some of the longest boundaries to defend. Keep the faith in him

  • Mushfiqur Rahim - Arguably Bangladesh's best ODI batsmen in recent years, Mushfiqur cracked a blazing hundred against Starc and Co, as Bangladesh made a good fist of chasing down Australia's 381. It was the big knock that's always looked likely, and he could continue from where he left off against this Afghan attack

  • Mahmudullah - Bangladesh's quiet big-hitter down their batting order made merry along with Mushfiqur the other day. Play him just so you don't lose crucial strike rate points if he gets going late in the innings, especially considering at least one of Shakib and Mushfiqur fire on more days than not

The budget buys

  • Najibullah Zadran - He hasn't made big runs ever since being dropped from Afghanistan's XI in the middle of the World Cup, but as their most consistent middle order batsman in recent times, is due a performance

  • Liton Das - Sure he's one of the most exciting young batsmen going around, sure he took it to India in the Asia Cup final, but did anyone see Liton becoming a middle-order success story for Bangladesh? Has produced some of the cleanest hitting from a Bangladesh batsman in the last couple of games, and could carry on from where he left off

What we're watching out for

Will the Hampshire Bowl continue to have more assistance for the bowlers like it has through the tournament? If the toss-winning captain decides to bowl first, you might be better off choosing a bowling captain yourself. The more conventional option, as always, remains backing one of Bangladesh's big guns to come good with the bat

Game 30, Pakistan v South Africa, Lord's

Srinath Sripath, June 23

Time's running out for Pakistan. It's around this point that they have turned around their campaigns in the past. For South Africa, it's game over for all practical purposes, and both teams need two points for differing reasons.

Your five must-haves

  • Babar Azam - Pakistan's best (and among their most in-form) batsman. For a while now, he's been due a big score. Was their leading run-getter when Pakistan toured South Africa earlier this year.

  • Imran Tahir - It' hard to imagine Tahir is playing his final ODI tournament, seeing his control and consistency for the best part of the World Cup. If not for a missed review for a catch during his final over against New Zealand, who knows, South Africa may have been in the frame for a top-four spot going into this game.

  • Mohammad Amir - With 13 wickets from four games, Amir not only remains Pakistan's highest wicket-taker so far, but also their best bowler by a distance. Early wickets remain a problem, but that shouldn't affect your fantasy points too much since he's claimed a bagful at the death.

  • Chris Morris - He might not be the beast hitter he used to be a couple of years ago, when hardly a fantasy team existed without him, but Morris still remains a force with the ball in this South African attack plagued by injury troubles. Against New Zealand on a sticky wicket, Morris struck at crucial times to nearly take them over the line. A form-based pick for this game.

  • Kagiso Rabada - The only time Rabada played an ODI at Lord's, he ran through the English batting order with figures of 4 for 39, making full use of early assistance and the ground's slope. He's been effective against left-handers at the World Cup (3 wickets at 24.7) and coming up a lineup with its fair share of lefties, could have a field day.

The budget buys

  • Aiden Markram - Markram has a 45 and a 38 so far at this World Cup, both innings in which he looked fluent, before getting out without making the most of his starts. If he can survive the Amir burst early on, there could be yet more runs for him today.

  • Imam-ul-Haq - A hot-and-cold year that began with runs in South Africa (271 at average 51.2) is now in danger of being remembered for a drought at the World Cup for Imam. He's struggled against pace early on, but a South Africa attack he made merry against not so long ago, offers one of his last chances to turn the campaign around. Could be a differential pick.

What we're watching out for

Rabada versus Pakistan's two left-handed openers early on. Should Faf du Plessis win the toss and opt to bowl, you should consider him among your options for captain

Game 29, West Indies v New Zealand, Manchester

Arjun Namboothiri, June 22

Your five must-haves

  • Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor - On a batting beauty, don't look further than Williamson and Taylor for your first two picks and probably your captain too. Williamson is in fine form post his hundred against South Africa and you can't ignore that going into this crunch game. Taylor already has scored 82 and 48 this World Cup and please let us remind you again that Taylor averages almost 65.81 in 2019.

  • Chris Gayle - With Andre Russell out, Gayle will be burdened with the responsibility of getting in the runs. Gayle is a fantasy delight, and on his day can crush your rivals with extra points for his strike rate and sixes. He hasn't yet hit his stride in the World Cup, but the Manchester sun would welcome a few a big hits on a venue that has produced two 300+ scores in the last two games.

  • Lockie Ferguson - The 28-year old just can't seem to stop getting wickets this World Cup. He is New Zealand's leading wicket taker so far and among the top five overall. Among those five gentlemen, Ferguson has the best economy rate. Expect points from him, again.

  • Jason Holder - Another player who will be burdened with extra responsibility to get in the runs for West Indies. Plus, his ability with the bat and ball make him a solid pick for any game. In the warm-up game against New Zealand, he smashed 47 of 32 to take the Windies past 400, and with his potential for wickets against a loose middle order (minus Williamson and Taylor), Holder could be your X-factor.

    The budget buys

    • Colin de Grandhome - The big man from Harare has finally come to the World Cup party! He was efficient in his 60 against South Africa and bowled exceptionally well conceding just 33 for his one wicket in his ten overs. On a wicket like Manchester, de Grandhome can not only produce the same performance with the bat, but his medium-pace has huge potential for wickets when West Indies try and shift a gear in the last 15 overs.

    • Nicholas Pooran - What a treat it has been to watch Pooran this World Cup! With New Zealand's bowling attack buzzing, early wickets could see the No.4 play a bigger role in the game. He hasn't scored a hundred so far, but if anyone deserves a ton this World Cup, it is Pooran,

    Game 28, India V Afghanistan, Southampton

    Gaurav Sundararaman June 22

    Another game that could potentially fetch a lot of points based on the Toss. Either way it is a game to pack your team with a lot of Indian players.

    Your five must-haves

    • Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli With Shikhar Dhawan out of the World cup, India's plans have slightly taken a hit. The dependency on Kohli and Rohit is slightly more. Both of them would look to continue to play the long innings and bat majority of the overs. Last game Rohit allowed KL Rahul to settle in while he played the aggressor. When Rohit batted against Pakistan in the absence of Dhawan, he took the role of the aggressor and started striking from ball one. Rohit's SR in the first 10 overs was just 57 when he opened alongside Dhawan in WC'19 while Rohit's SR in the first 10 overs went up to 127.6 when he opened alongside Rahul. The plan could reverse for the game against Afghanistan where KL Rahul looks to attack and Rohit bats through. Bat first or second the Top 3 of India is a must have in the fantasy team purely because the chances of them failing is pretty rare. Rohit has scored five consecutive fifties and would be looking to add to that.
      Rashid Khan Not often will Rashid Khan get hit for over 100 runs in an innings The most sixes he had conceded in an innings before the game against England was two. Rashid would be looking to prove a point and showcase his skills in these tough conditions. The last time the two teams met at the Asia cup the match ended in a tie with Rashid playing a key role. The conditions are vastly different but Rashid would be looking to make amends.

      Jasprit Bumrah The Afghanistan batsmen have not played Bumrah and would find it difficult to pick him. Their batsmen have played very cautiously without throwing their wicket albeit not scoring runs. Either way Bumrah's spell is going to fetch a lot of fantasy points.


      The budget buys

        Mohammad Shami

        With Bhuvaneswar Kumar likely to sit out today, Mohammad Shami would want to claim his opportunity right away. If The Afghanistan Batsmen look to surive Bumrah then Shami would be the go to man for all the wickets. In 2019 Shami has picked 19 wickets in 11 innings - His best year since 2015. Shami's death bowling has also improved taking 5 wickets at an Economy of just 7.4 in 2019. Pick Shami as he would definitely be a budget buy.

        Kuldeep Yadav In such a game it is best to pack your team with maximum Indian players. It is a tough call between Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal. We would recommend Kuldeep since he came back into his usual rhythm in the last game against Pakistan and that will give him a lot of confidence against the Afghan batsmen.

      Game 27, England V Sri Lanka, Headingley

      Gaurav Sundararaman June 21

      Sri Lanka meet a rampant England at Leeds. Given how England are playing, they could put up another mammoth total should they bat first. If Sri Lanka bat first, there's every chance this could be a low-scoring game. The toss will dictate the composition of your teams.

      Your five must-haves

      • Joe Root In scintillating form, Joe Root has been England's Mr. Consistent. His runs this tournament have also come at good pace. Irrespective of whether England bat first or second, Root will be a safe pick. He has 971 runs at an average of 57.11 with two centuries against Sri Lanka.

      • Mark Wood While all the focus is on Jofra Archer, Wood has flown under the radar in what is easily his best year in ODIs. Halfway through 2019, Wood has already taken more wickets than he has ever taken in a calendar year (18). He strikes a lot faster (25.9 balls per wicket) and concedes fewer runs per wicket (24.2) this year as compared to any of his previous years. Wood has the fourth-best economy rate (6.4 runs per wicket) of all the pacers who have bowled 50 or more overs at the death since his debut. Go ahead and pick him.

      • Thisara Perera he's yet to make an impact this World Cup. His form in on the wane but with Sri Lanka playing a virtual quarter-final, his experience could be vital. There is a case for him to bat higher up as a floater to change things up a bit. We can only wait and watch to see if Sri Lanka think out of the box.

      • Lasith Malinga His match-ups against the England batsmen promises to be intriguing. He has dismissed Joe root Twice and Morgan thrice in 87 and 105 balls respectively. His yorkers early on and in the death could be a slight challenge for the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. If the conditions are overcast, then Malinga is likely to get some help.

      • Ben Stokes Apart from the first game he has had a quiet tournament with both bat and ball. Performance of Stokes is vital as the tournament moves to the business end. There could be a game when the top order fails in tough conditions and the runs from Stokes could be vital. With Leeds hosting its first World Cup game, it will be interesting to see how the pitch behaves and if Stokes can deliver an impact performance.

      The budget buys

      • James Vince With Jason Roy out, Vince's performances will be vital to England. In case Roy doesn't recover, Vince needs to replicate his role. Vince started well but couldn't capitalise against Afghanistan. Who knows, he could be a game changer at Leeds.

      • Moeen Ali Playing his 100th ODI, Moeen Ali would be keen to make up for the two games he missed out. He showed his prowess with the bat in the last few overs against Afghanistan. With the ball he had a good game against Pakistan. Sri Lanka do have a few left handed batsmen which Moeen Ali can target.

      What we are watching out for

      If England bat first we could see a high scoring game with your team packed with English Batsmen. If England are bowling first the safe choices are to go with the top three who are likely to get most balls to play.

      Game 26, Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge

      Arjun Namboothiri, June 20

      Two teams in form. Two batting-heavy sides. A potential run-fest. Whether Bangladesh beating this Australian side is an upset could be debatable, but they do come into this game with the underdog tag against the defending champions.

      Your five must-haves

      • David Warner and Steven Smith - Warner is the one you can always trust. If he doesn't go big today, he will go big tomorrow. Smith, though, looks in great touch. They've been racking up the runs since their return. Bangladesh have already conceded 300 thrice this World Cup. Trust these two to score big today

      • Shakib Al Hasan - Easy pick. Runs, wickets - Shakib will get you all. He's got 384 runs and five wickets in four matches. Screams MVP, doesn't he?

      • Mitchell Starc - Starc can get you wickets that makes him a huge fantasy favourite over someone like Pat Cummins. If Bangladesh lose early wickets, Aaron Finch will turn to Starc to run through the tail. Starc after 40 overs is a threat

      • Mushfiqur Rahim - The one player Bangladesh go to when they play the big boys is Mushfiqur. If Bangladesh can handle the Starc and Cummins threat with caution, Mushfiqur can target the rest of their bowlers, most of whom who haven't really hit their stride yet. He should have gone on to score a hundred against South Africa at the Oval, but luck deserted him. You wouldn't bet against him scoring a big one here, despite his middling run since that opening game

      The budget buys

      • Liton Das - Boy, did he play well against the West Indies, on World Cup debut. His 94* that took Bangladesh over the line makes him a hot pick for the game. That was his third consecutive half-century in ODIs too, so the form is with him

      • Nathan Coulter-Nile or Nathan Lyon - Depending on who is in the XI. Coulter-Nile did not feature in their game against Sri Lanka, but looking at how his replacement Jason Behrendorff performed, he could get right in. He made a stunning 92 against West Indies, but he's not hit form with the ball. A drop from the team might just be the kick he needs, while for Lyon, who hasn't featured at all in the World Cup, this could be the day he shows the Australian team management what they've been missing in the middle overs. A differential pick for this game.

      What we are watching out for

      An even contest between the two sides. Bangladesh chasing against this Australian bowling unit is something to watch out for, but if they bat first nothing more than 350 would be daunting enough for a firing Australian batting unit. Please, let's have another thriller!

      Game 25, New Zealand v South Africa, Birmingham

      Arjun Namboothiri, June 19

      Presidents have fallen, chunks of ice have melted and Grant Elliott has moved to business since New Zealand thrilling win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup semi-final. Does the ghost of that past still haunt South Africa? We are all eager to find out. New Zealand though, go in as favourites for this one.

      Your five must-haves

      • Trent Boult - Boult loves a right-hander to bowl at, and South Africa have four of them in their top order. The other one, Quinton de Kock, averages 16 against him and has been dismissed four times. Boult may not be in the highest-wicket takers list so far, but if you have seem him bowl, you'll know batsmen don't really fancy him with the lengths he is hitting

      • Martin Guptill - A player like Guptill is always a fantasy delight. He's a hit-and-miss player, but when he's a hit, oh boy, you know you can rack in the points. He's hit a bit of a roadblock since his 73* in New Zealand's World Cup opener, but what's better than when's facing a bowling attack bereft of some spark? Memories of his 180 a couple of years ago may yet be fresh in South Africa's mind

      • Imran Tahir - Yes, Tahir is back. His four-for against Afghanistan should give you confidence, and knowing that Birmingham offers the spinners something, there's all the more reason to have him. Tahir averages 26 against New Zealand and an in-form player is never a bad pick

      • Ross Taylor - An easy pick against a side short on confidence. Could be your differential too since most would pick Kane Williamson over Taylor. His average of 72 in 2019 needs no reminding, and Taylor has gone as he has been over the past few years. He's a great player of spin as well, and so if he can handle the Tahir threat, he may be in for a big score

      • Chris Morris - Birmingham's history shows there's assistance to the pacers who bowl with the older ball. Shami (in Tests), Hasan Ali and Morne Morkel have all done well here over the past couple of years. Morris found his touch against Afghanistan with the ball and if he does what he did against India with the bat, your points should be sorted

      The budget buys

      • Jimmy Neesham - Like Morris, Neesham's threat is two-fold. He will most definitely bowl in the middle overs and the conditions could suit him. With South Africa's batting woes well known, Williamson will look to go for the kill - Lockie Ferguson or Mitchell Santner would apply pressure from one side, while Neesham makes merry with the wickets on the other. Oh, and he can bat too!

      • Aiden Markram - An outside pick from the superstars on display today. South Africa need runs, and they need Markram to go big, with Hashim Amla not firing. He has never played against New Zealand, so that makes him something of a surprise package. He looked good for his 45 against Bangladesh but has been out of touch since. Heroes are made from tough circumstances, and what better game to bring up your first ODI hundred than this one?

      What we're watching out for

      How South Africa's young ones cope with the pressure of a virtual do-or-die game. Markram is one of them, along with de Kock and Kagiso Rabada. Will it be the same old story, or the start of a brave new chapter?

      Game 24, England v Afghanistan, Old Trafford

      Srinath Sripath, June 18

      The bookmakers' favourites looking for two easy points, against a messed-up side looking to give this World Cup its first underdog tale to savour. A clinical win for the hosts or a banana peel out of nowhere?

      Your five must-haves

      • Joe Root - One of the tournament's top five run-getters going at an average of 93, with two centuries to his name already. If you're leaving him out, you're taking a massive chance

      • Jonny Bairstow - No Jason Roy for this game makes young Jonny B a shoo-in. He's just starting to find his range at this World Cup, and this could be an ideal opportunity to make some big runs

      • Rashid Khan - It's hard to know who's a certainty in the Afghanistan XI anymore, but we think dropping Rashid is beyond even their imaginations. He's troubled a number of England's batsmen across T20 leagues with his wiles, so get him in and hope he has a field day. He's also been making quick, crucial runs at the World Cup after every batting collapse

      • Jofra Archer - Pace, accuracy, and scary bouncers that have taken down the likes of Hashim Amla already. Against a top order that's lacked the innings-building patience that is needed in the 50-over game, Archer could pocket a hatful of wickets again

      • Jos Buttler - Buttler rounds up our England-heavy list of must-haves, for obvious reasons. The two major downsides to having him are Afghanistan unleashing Rashid Khan on him early on (hasn't faced him in internationals, but averages 1.00 in four T20s), and the prospect of him not batting if England face a small chase.

      The budget buys

      • Najibullah Zadran - Najibullah is actually among the world's most consistent middle-order batsmen in recent times (average 47.4, strike rate 99.4 since 2018), and is the only one of the Afghan batsmen - along with Hashmatullah Shahidi - to cross fifty so far this tournament, but found himself out of the XI against South Africa to accommodate former captain Asghar Afghan. If he plays - and he should - you should get him into your team, too

      • Adil Rashid - Imran Tahir showed the other day how a wristspinner can make full use of this under-confident, out-of-sorts Afghan middle order. Old Trafford is one of Rashid's happy hunting grounds in England (average 27.6, economy 4.45), and today could be one of his best days at this tournament

      • James Vince - Your final budget buy for the day is a batsman about to make his World Cup debut at the top of England's order. Only here because of Alex Hales' late exclusion and Roy's injury, Vince has quite a point to prove in the next couple of games. There are no extra fantasy points for attractive runs, but Vince's picture-perfect drives could fetch you crucial batting (and strike rate) points. A potential differential pick for the day

      What we're watching out for

      Archer v Hazratullah and Co. Rashid Khan v Buttler. And what the Afghanistan selection roulette throws up this time. You should keep an eye on that last one, too, lest you have non-playing members in your fantasy XI.

      Game 23, Bangladesh v West Indies, Taunton

      Srinath Sripath, June 17

      This game marks the halfway point of the league phase of the World Cup, and offers an opportunity for one of these two mid-table sides to make a big move up towards the qualifying spots. Bangladesh have had the wood on West Indies in recent times, but have never beaten them in a World Cup game in four three attempts.

      Your five must-haves

      • Shakib Al Hasan - The world's No.1 ODI allrounder is in form and has been near the top of the runs charts from the very beginning. Wickets have been hard to come by, and he might cop some stick against West Indies' big hitters, but is still hot fantasy property

      • Chris Gayle - More a FOMO pick than based on his recent run of form. The boundaries in Taunton are tiny, and Gayle's mishits are likely to end up clearing every boundary at this ground. Bangladesh don't have express pace to counter him early on, so just pencil him in already

      • Mehidy Hasan - The one man who might be able to stop Gayle early on is Bangladesh's fingerspinner who has been among the wickets, albeit late in the innings. Mehidy might find the going tough on this ground, but he has good match-ups against left-handers like Shimron Hetmyer and potentially, Darren Bravo if he plays

      • Andre Russell or, if he doesn't play, Nicholas Pooran - Russell playing even as a pure batsman (he has a dodgy knee which might not allow him to bowl too much) is sure to bring you points. Again, a pick that you can't avoid since everyone else is likely to play him. Keep an eye on team news though. Should he sit this one out (or even otherwise), the in-form Pooran should slot in his stead.

      • Sheldon Cottrell - On a batsmen-friendly ground where spinners have historically struggled, what's a more welcome breath of fresh air than a near-guarantee of early wickets? He's done the job every time so far, and could prove to be a differential pick here

      The budget buys

      • Mohammad Saifuddin - It's not Mustafizur Rahman who has been Bangladesh's most effective death bowler with his yorkers and slower variations so far this World Cup. Saifuddin has been the go-to man to do some late damage, be it bowling first or in a chase. He might go for runs, but expect wickets to bring you the points

      • Soumya Sarkar - His average of 14.7 in England could do with some setting right, and what better opponent to have than West Indies, against whom he has four consecutive fifties from his last four innings. He's got a couple of starts, and would be looking to make them count this time around

      What we're watching out for

      The final call on whether Dre Russ starts for West Indies. Through what's not going to be a sunny day, your captaincy choices could come down between Shakib and one of West Indies' big-hitting allrounders.

      Arjun Namboothiri is an ESPN India staffer who won the IPL 2019 global fantasy competition. Gaurav Sundararaman is a fantasy cricket nerd who has won ESPNcricinfo's office fantasy league multiple times. Srinath Sripath is a fantasy game veteran who makes the odd podium finish across cricket and football leagues