HYDERABAD: Amidst the world cup cricket fever that has engulfed the entire country, celebrations by our cricket loving population and the overwhelming sense of pride among majority of the fans after India’s successful start to the defence of the ICC Cricket World Cup, many others are engrossed in a virtual tournament of their own.
The Fantasy cricket league on the official website for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 has captured the imagination of an average cricket fan. Many citizens feel that intense competition among their peers through their own fantasy world cup has added a whole new dimension to watching the game and following the tournament.
Says Aditya Shivram, who works at a multi-national corporation in the city, “I’m involved in my own fantasy tournament with my colleagues, friends and cousins. The competition among us is so intense, that we tend to follow each and every game of the world cup, no matter how busy we are. This has brought about an unbelievable aura as I’m experiencing world cup fever like never before.”
Aditya’s view is not an isolated one as dozens of Hyderabadis are fiercely competing with each other for top honours in their fantasy league. Some feel that apart from the rivalry and rush that one experiences in a closely contested game with their peers, fantasy cricket also helps people understand the game better. “When you are playing fantasy cricket, you will inevitably follow the moves of every single player. Because of this, not only do I have a better understanding of the game, I have also learnt about lesser known sides like Scotland, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan,” points Kartik Valipay, an MBBS graduate.
For those who don’t know, fantasy cricket is a unique concept where you can create your own team of 11 players from different countries who play in the world cup. Depending on how those players feature in the actual tournament, you get points for batting, bowling and fielding. You can create a league where your friends can also join with the help of a code and begin your own fantasy world cup.
This concept has been around for a while and it became a major hit among netizens during the Indian Premier League in 2008. Most people feel that this time it is bigger than before. “The cricket world cup is the pinnacle of all tournaments and the IPL is no match for it. So naturally, the sense of excitement and the desire to watch the matches are much, much higher. As far as fantasy cricket is concerned, I feel this time the interface of the website is much better compared to IPL and the rules are much more balanced, unlike the IPL which is more bowler-friendly. Overall, this has been an unforgettable experience, and we haven’t even reached the knockouts yet,” chuckles Nikhil Nandakumar, an IT professional.
Despite its unquestionable benefits, fantasy cricket has often put supporters of the Indian cricket team in a rather awkward position at times. “It is tough at times because you want India to win the match. At the same time, I kept rooting for Shikhar Dhawan’s dismissal because he was not in my fantasy team, but was the powerplayer in my rivals’ teams. Even though Dhawan scoring a hundred meant India winning the match, it severely dented my prospects in our fantasy tournament,” rues Archit Sonty, an engineering student.
Despite such instances, denizens have given a unanimous thumbs up to this addictive format and vow to make it a tradition for each tournament. “The best part is, unlike betting, we don’t use actual money but it is just as addictive. Fantasy cricket has made this world cup a highly memorable one and if India win the world cup on March 29, it will be the icing on the cake,” he adds, with a smile.