Johannesburg: South Africa's domestic T20 runners-up, who count on the imposing Wanderers as their home ground, that have been drawn to take on Mumbai Indians, the No. 2 team in the IPL, in the tournament opener that kicks off on Friday.
The Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai outfit, who had a long workout at the nets on Thursday, will be hoping to continue the short trend of the home team being upset.
Actually, Tendulkar and his team, imposing as they are with the presence of the Pollards, Bravos, Duminys and Malingas, not to speak of the recovered Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, may not really bother about what happened in the past as they would rather look to create history by becoming the first Indian side to lift the trophy and the not-so-small $2.5 million (approx Rs 12 crore) that will come with it.
Yes, there is a lot at stake in this 17-day bash, with a total prize money of $6 million. New South Wales, the champions in the inaugural year, are not there this time around but at least seven of the ten teams in the fray, the other two IPL sides, RCB and Chennai Super Kings included, have the capability to pull it off.
Back in India, if the CLT20 struggled somewhat to capture the imagination of the public, the paying ones or the ones with the free passes, it was more due to some of the pitches on offer, the low and slow bounce keeping the totals too low and therefore the interest down. After all, T20 is mostly about sixes and fours, for that's when the dancing girls do their act.
It is spring time now in South Africa, a little early for the cricket to begin and so the pitches here too will be tested. As Harbhajan explained in a chat with the media, the practice match at the Bull Ring was played on a low, slow surface but: "They have been working hard as I can see, so hopefully there will be a better prepared wicket for the match."
MI, for their part, are as well prepared as they can be, their batsmen at the nets striking the ball really hard. They did lose their practice tie a couple of days ago, but as of Thursday afternoon, they looked all set to devour the Alviro Petersen-led Lions, who do not have too many stars to roar about, but then unlike the Tiwaris, Satishes and Rayudus, all their players are well versed with the SA conditions. Let the tournament begin.
Kieron Pollard is the ultimate modern T20 freelancer. Played for Trinidad & Tobago in last Champions League, is representing Mumbai now, could be wearing the South Australian Redbacks shirt next year. Recently had his face busted open by a Dominic Cork bouncer in the English domestic Twenty20. The last time he played for Mumbai, he was held back for too long, potentially costing them the IPL crown.
Robert Frylick topped the wicket charts in the South African domestic Twenty20 competition, and also managed to bowl two maiden overs. His 14 wickets in eight matches, at 16.21 per, carried Lions into the final. He is known to be a deceptive medium-pacer.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Murtaza Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Rajagopal Sathish, Aditya Tare (WK), Saurabh Tiwary, Jean-Paul Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga
Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen (capt), Zander de Bruyn, Neil McKenzie, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Craig Alexander, Shane Burger, Richard Cameron, Werner Coetsee, Cliff Deacon, Robert Frylinck, Ethan O'Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile (WK), Jonathan Vandiar
Stats and trivia
Friday, September 10, 2010
Start time 17:30 local (15:30 GMT)