Meet the Champions League T20 contenders
South AustraliaHow they made it: Winners of the Big Bash 2010-11
Captain: Michael Klinger (Squad)
Headliner: Shaun Tait
The South Australia Redbacks are far from the glamour boys of Australian cricket. Success has been rare for the side in recent years, but under the new coach Darren Berry, they have come to life. By winning the 2010-11 Big Bash final they secured their first piece of silverware in 15 years, and earned a place at the Champions League for the second consecutive time. They have lost the aggressive batsman Aiden Blizzard and their star overseas player, Kieron Pollard, to the Mumbai Indians, but while they are short on star power, there is plenty of talent in the squad. Shaun Tait, Adil Rashid and Nathan Lyon are proven Twenty20 bowlers, while Callum Ferguson and Daniel Christian are also key men. There will be teams that underestimate the Redbacks, and that could work in their favour.
New South WalesHow they made it: Runners-up at the Big Bash 2010-11
Captain: Simon Katich (Squad)
Headliner: David Warner
The 2009 champions are back, having failed to qualify for last year's tournament. Consistently one of the strongest performing sides in Australia's domestic cricket, the Blues have a deep well of national talent they can call on, but they will be without Brett Lee, Brad Haddin and Doug Bollinger, all of whom are playing for IPL teams. Even so, 11 of members of the state's squad have played for Australia in one form or another. Shane Watson and David Warner will form a fearsome opening partnership, while an attack boasting Stuart Clark, Nathan Hauritz and Australia's future pace-bowling stars - Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc - is a fine mix. New South Wales deserve to start the tournament as one of the favourites.
Chennai Super KingsHow they made it: Winners of IPL 2011
Captain: MS Dhoni (Squad)
Headliner: R Ashwin
Chennai have made consistency their hallmark, a considerable achievement in the unpredictable climes of Twenty20. They have marched to title wins in all tournaments they have contested in the last two years - two IPLs and the 2010 Champions League - a period in which their captain also laid claim to the biggest prize in limited-overs cricket. MS Dhoni's Midas touch wore off drastically in England, but a return to the Chennai yellows should help banish the blues. He regained his batting mojo at the back-end of that tour, as did Suresh Raina, Chennai's other heavy-weight India international. Michael Hussey walked on water on Australia's recent tour of Sri Lanka, and will dictate terms at the top of a muscular batting line-up. M Vijay and S Badrinath will look at this tournament as a chance to set the agenda for the upcoming Indian domestic season, and potentially a return to India colours. The seam attack, spearheaded by the well-rested Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel, wears a fresh look. But if the qualifier round was anything to go by, spin could hold the key and R Ashwin, last year's Player of the Tournament, could be Dhoni's weapon of choice.
Royal Challengers BangaloreHow they made it: Runners-up in the IPL
Captain: Daniel Vettori (Squad)
Headliner: Chris Gayle
The only team to have made it to all three seasons of the Champions League T20, Bangalore have an overseas cast of A-list Twenty20 stars. The acquisition of Chris Gayle two weeks into the IPL jumpstarted their campaign after they limped out of the starting gate, and Bangalore put together a seven-match winning streak, the longest in four editions lf the tournament's history. Domestic talent remains thin despite the presence of Virat Kohli and the big bucks splurged on Saurabh Tiwary. The absence of the injured Zaheer Khan has also eroded the strength of their Indian contingent.
Mumbai IndiansHow they made it: Finished third in IPL 2011
Captain: Harbhajan Singh (Squad)
Headliner: Kieron Pollard
Owned by the richest man in India and usually captained by Sachin Tendulkar, Mumbai have been one of the highest profile franchises in the IPL. After an indifferent first two seasons, they got their act together in the third, dominating the tournament before faltering in the final. They were the pace-setters for much of the 2011 season as well, winning eight of the first ten games, before fading to finish third. In Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard, they have two of the most dangerous Twenty20 players, but injuries to three of their biggest domestic stars, two of them tournament-ending, will worry them. Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma have been ruled out, while Harbhajan Singh hasn't played since an abdomen injury early in the England tour. Eyebrows were raised when, on the eve of the tournament, they were allowed to field five foreign players due to the number of injuries in the squad.
Cape CobrasHow they made it: Winners of the Standard Bank Pro20
Captain: Justin Kemp (Squad)
Headliner: Owais Shah
The Cobras are making their second appearance at the Champions League in three years, and arrive armed with names such as Herschelle Gibbs, Justin Kemp and Charl Langeveldt. Their squad is further bolstered by Owais Shah, who was the highest overall run-getter in the Pro20 competition last year. With their national stars Dale Steyn, JP Duminy and Robin Peterson joining the squad, they boast one of the strongest line-ups in the tournament. Their biggest area of concern will be juggling the national trio with the rest of their team. On paper, they are set to go far in this competition with quality seam bowlers like Vernon Philander, handy spinners like Justin Ontong and hard-hitters like Richard Levi.
WarriorsHow they made it: Runners up at the Standard Bank Pro20
Captain: Johan Botha (Squad)
Headliner: Rusty Theron
The Warriors are the only South African team to qualify for the Champions League on two successive occasions and have a lot to live up to following their performance in last year's event. On home soil, they became the darlings of the competition and made it all the way to the final, before losing to Chennai Super Kings. They have had a rough ride since then and failed to defend either of their two domestic titles. But they are looking forward to a fresh start with a new coach at the helm, after Russell Domingo was named national assistant coach in June. Piet Botha takes a talent-laden team to the tournament with an impressive mix of veterans like Mark Boucher and Nicky Boje, and youngsters like Andrew Birch and Lyall Meyer. The Warriors also have an array of national stars and the likes of Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Colin Ingram will be relied upon if they hope to reach the knockout stages.
Trinidad & TobagoHow they made it: Winners of the Caribbean T20, and one of the three qualifiers
Captain: Daren Ganga (squad)
Headliner: Darren Bravo
T&T were the surprise package of the inaugural Champions League in 2009, strutting to the final on the back of a cavalier, flair-filled brand of cricket. That tournament launched Kieron Pollard into Twenty20 stardom; perhaps this edition will do the same for one of the raft of exciting young batsmen in the side. T&T may be without their two biggest names - Pollard and Dwayne Bravo - but retain a dozen players who were part of that barnstorming run in 2009, giving them a side that has experience of both big matches and Indian conditions. While the batting contains some of the best young Caribbean talent - Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo and Lendl Simmons - the bowling has the much-improved Ravi Rampaul backing a spin-heavy attack. Their dominant showing in the qualifier, where they won both their games, is indicative of the form they are in.
Kolkata Knight RidersHow they made it: Placed fourth in IPL 2011, and one of the three qualifiers
Captain: Jacques Kallis (Squad)
Headliner: Yusuf Pathan
After three disappointing IPL seasons, a new-look Kolkata Knight Riders put in a commendable performance in the tournament's fourth edition and made it past the group stage for the first time, only to be thwarted by Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator. They barely made it past the qualifier stage of the Champions League without full-time leader Gautam Gambhir, and Eoin Morgan, who are both out with injuries. However, stand-in captain Jacques Kallis is more than capable of providing solidity with the bat - as he showed in the IPL, scoring 424 runs at 35.33 - while Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Brad Haddin will handle the big-hitting requirements. Manoj Tiwary's resurgent domestic season earned him a comeback into the Indian team, and he will continue to control the middle order. Shakib Al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla formed a miserly spin duo in the IPL and are set to continue that trend in the Champions League. The game-breaker, though, is likely to be Yusuf whose fearsome hitting can decide games in a matter of minutes.
SomersetHow they made it: Runners-up in the Friends Life t20, and one of the three qualifiers
Captain: Alfonso Thomas (squad)
Key player: Peter Trego
Defeat in the CB40 final at Lord's, two days before the start of the Champions League, enhanced Somerset's reputation as the bridesmaids of county cricket. It was their fifth second place finish across all formats in two seasons. "I'm out of answers," Marcus Trescothick, their captain, said. Some of the answers came in their heart-warming display in the qualifying stage, where two surprise wins propelled them into the main draw. They were without three key players for the qualifiers: Trescothick, who doesn't travel overseas anymore, Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler. The latter two are on England duty and leave big holes in the line-up, though they might appear later if the event. Alfonso Thomas will need to use all his experience to lead the side and his bowling - bolstered by IPL experience - will be vital. Peter Trego is an allrounder to keep an eye on while Steve Snell, the wicketkeeper, was playing Minor Counties cricket last month. Both of them had big roles to play in the qualification round and are likely to continue the good work.
(All odds courtesy bet365.com)