Jet-lagged Somerset face smarting Auckland
Auckland v Somerset, September 20
Start time 20.00 (14.30 GMT)
Auckland have less than 24 hours to bounce back from their utterly deflating loss to Kolkata Knight Riders. Twenty20 games are rarely lost from 60 for 1 in the ninth over while chasing 122 for a win, but somehow Auckland managed to stuff it on Monday. Victory won't guarantee anything, but another defeat will shut the door on their chances of taking home anything between an extra $200,000 and $2.5 million. That's a lot of money for a New Zealand-based side to pass up, sitting as they do in a world far from the commercial hub of cricket.
Their joust with Kolkata proved that Auckland have the team to pull off a win, and would have also given them pointers on how to tackle the slow-and-low conditions in Hyderabad. Their chances are considerably brightened by the circumstances in which their opponents have turned up for the event. Only three days ago, Somerset were in a different time-zone, shuddering to another defeat in a final, leaving them with a fifth runner's-up spot across formats in two years of domestic cricket. In addition to being demoralised and bleary-eyed, they have arrived without their captain, Marcus Trescothick, while Kieron Pollard has chosen to play for Mumbai Indians. It gets worse - Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler are unavailable for the qualifier on account of England duty. Both teams are clearly saddled with varying degrees of adversity - who will stay afloat on Tuesday night?
In Trescothick's absence, Alfonso Thomas will lead Somerset, and his IPL experience with Pune Warriors will come in handy. The absence of several key players makes predicting their top order a bit of a lottery. The side is also endowed with more than its share of slow spinners.
Auckland may want to stick to their XI, though they will be concerned with Colin Munro's inability to score quickly in the middle overs.
Watch out for …
Martin Guptill faced the ignominy of getting dismissed before facing a ball against Kolkata, and will be eager to make amends against Somerset. He was one of the top run-getters in the Friends Life t20, with 476 runs in 14 innings for Derbyshire, and will want to extend that run in the Champions League.
Murali Kartik has fashioned a reputation for himself in Twenty20 circles, and it is largely founded upon his county exploits. This time, he is likely to be the designated leader of the attack, and Somerset will rely heavily on his local expertise.
Peter Trego is known to hit a long ball against the spinners, as Amit Mishra would testify. Ronnie Hira is a left-arm spinner who is unafraid to toss it up even if batsmen try to go after him. Sparks could fly when they go head to head.
Stats & trivia
- Arul Suppiah had the best individual figures - 6 for 5 - by any bowler in the Friends Life t20
- James Hildreth, with 346 runs, was the second-highest run-getter for Somerset in that tournament
"We always thought scoring against the new ball is crucial in these conditions."
Expect Gareth Hopkins' men to go hard at the bowling early on
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.