Six-team qualifier for Champions League
The Champions League Twenty20, to be held in India from September 23 to October 9, will be preceded by a six-team qualifying stage that will see English teams back in the tournament. The matches will be held in Hyderabad (the qualifiers), Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai, which will also stage the final.
Three teams from the qualifying stage will join the seven who've already qualified and play out the format used in 2010. The sides in the main round will be divided into two groups of five, with the top two from each qualifying for the semi-finals.
Kolkata Knight Riders, who finished fourth in the IPL this year, the Caribbean T20 Champions Trinidad and Tobago and the HRV Cup - New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 competition - title-winners Auckland Aces have been invited to participate in the qualifiers, to be held from September 19 to 21. One team from Sri Lanka and two from England are expected to join them, though those teams and the format for the qualifiers are yet to be decided. The qualifiers clash with the third Test between Sri Lanka and Australia, and in that case Kolkata as well as the Sri Lankan franchise could be deprived of players on national duty.
The seven confirmed participants include the top three from the IPL, and the winners and runners-up from the Big Bash in Australia and the Pro20 tournament in South Africa. They are Chennai Super Kings (IPL and CLT20 champions), Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians from the IPL; South Australia Redbacks and New South Wales Blues from the Big Bash, and the Warriors and Cape Cobras from South Africa. Pakistan are the only major Test-playing nation to not have teams play in either the qualifiers or the main round.
The main round will be split among Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. The opening game will be held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium while Chennai will stage a semi-final and the final.
The inaugural edition of the tournament in 2009 had 12 teams. The 2010 edition, which was played in South Africa, had ten teams, including New Zealand's Central Districts, who, among others, are yet to receive their prize money, leading to criticism by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), the players' representative body, of the organisers of the Champions League - the boards of Australia, India and South Africa. While Australia and South Africa have paid their teams the prize money, the rest are still waiting. However, a governing council member told ESPNcricinfo that the deposits would be made 'any day now.'