Champions League – Qualifiers – Preview
Cricket fans (T-20 fans, Test fans and ODI fans). One of the nascent, but bling-filled tournaments in cricket, Champions League T-20 is upon us. Today marks the start of the Qualifiers (As I write, Faisalabad Wolves have finished their 1st innings with 139 – a rude welcome to a Pakistan-based franchise from their New Zealand counterparts, Otago Volts).
Let us take a quick look at the Qualifiers who hope to make it to the Main draw.
Otago Volts – think of the team and the name that comes to mind is McCullum and both the talented McCullum brothers are playing for the Volts. Brendon “Baz” McCullum has already stamped his name on the tournament. Volts prepared well for the tournament by playing in SL against local teams and have not lost a game, to boot. The McCullum brothers are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the IPL, where they have plied their craft and have gained precious knowledge of playing the game in sub-continent conditions. Ryan “I am not Tendulkar” Ten Doeschate is another star with immense talent and loads of IPL experience to go with it. Other players with International experience include Neil Broom (right handed Batsman, Ian Butler (fast bowler) and left handed opener Hamish Rutherford.
The biggest news out of the Hyderabad team is that Shikhar Dhawan has been rewarded the Captain’s role for the breath-taking montage of knocks he has put together in the last 6-8 months. This was a smart choice, much like Sunrisers Hyderabad’s decisions since their joining the IPL. In some senses, Sangakarra led the way, as he always does by opting to play for his Sri Lankan team Kandurata Maroons. Shikhar’s deebut in tests against Australia was a direct shoo-in for the most breath-taking-debuts-of-all-time lists. He carried that good form into champions trophy where he finished the leading run scorer by adding more knocks to another breath-taking-of-all-time list, this one the ODI knocks list. JP Duminy is another in-form player and with stars in the team like Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, and industrious players like Amit Mishra , Thisera Perera, Darren Sammy and Parthiv patel
Faislabad Wolves represent India’s equally cricket-crazy neighbours Pakistan. The wolves were almost out of the tournament because their visas were rejected by Indian Embassy due to the political issues that always seem to be married to Cricket, Life, Universe and Everything in the Asian sub-continent. Misbah and Saeed Ajmal are the two biggest stars in this pack of Wolves from Faisalabad. As most cricket fans know, Misbah and Ajmal are the new-age cricketers (don’t let their age fool you) who start their career in T-20 and then move to Test Cricket. The Wolves’ biggest strength during the qualifiers is playing in conditions similar to pitches in home country.
Coached by Chaminda Vaas, the Kandurata Maroons have an impressive line-up of players starting with the classy Sangakarra, who is well supported by international players like Nuwan Kulasekhara, Upul Tharanga, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva and Lahiru Thirumanne. Sangakarra was put in an uncomfortable situation to prove his loyalty and in some sense was forced to play for the SL side ahead of his IPL team. In the future, Champions League will be better served if players were not forced to make such decisions and the league should have concrete rules in place. Sangakarra had his differences with the SLC Board on the issue but took the high road and agreed to represent the Maroons. The Maroons’ like the other subcontinent teams have knowledge of the local conditions, but as the Volts proved it tonight, the foreign teams don’t find the sub-continent, well…. FOREIGN!
My picks for the 2 qualifying teams would be the Volts and the Sunrisers. Please do let us know which team you think will qualify 1st for the main draw, in our daily poll – right here.
Enjoy Cricket and Life everyone!