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ESPNcricinfo picks some of the lesser-known players that could spring a surprise or two in the Champions League
Nikita Bastian and Dustin Silgardo
September 22, 2011
Daniel Harris, South Australia
An opening batsman, Daniel Harris is strong square through the offside and a sharp fielder. He was named South Australia's Twenty20 player of the year for 2010-11, following his strong showing in the Big Bash. Harris topped the tournament's batting charts with 304 runs at 60.80, and hit 12 sixes in seven innings, second only to Chris Gayle. The highlight of his Twenty20 season was a blistering 70 against Western Australia in Perth, which came off 37 balls and contained nine fours and three sixes. If South Australia are to do better than last year's semi-final finish in the CLT20, Harris' success at the top of the order could be vital.
Patrick Cummins, New South Wales
An 18-year-old new-ball bowler, Patrick Cummins made his debut in all three formats for New South Wales earlier this year. He picked up 11 wickets at 14.09 in six Big Bash matches, while conceding only 6.59 runs an over, to finish No. 1 on the tournament's bowling charts. He reserved his best for the business end of the competition, destroying Tasmania in the preliminary final with figures of 4 for 16 - the best spell in Big Bash 2010-11. In June, he was named in Cricket Australia's list of contracted players for 2011-12, the youngest player to be offered a central contract since the current system was introduced in 1998.
Shadab Jakati, Chennai Super Kings
Shadab Jakati, a left-arm spinner, has played a significant role in Chennai Super Kings' strategy of stifling the opposition of runs with slow bowling. He was on the expensive side in the early part of IPL 2011, but improved as the tournament progressed. In the second-half of the group stage, apart from an off day against Delhi Daredevils, his economy rate hovered between 5.50 and 7.50 and he managed to claim big players like Shane Watson and Brendon McCullum after they had got off to starts. He made a telling contribution against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final, trapping AB de Villiers lbw and taking a return-catch off Luke Pomersbach, while conceding only 21 from his four overs.
Iqbal Abdulla, Kolkata Knight Riders
Iqbal Abdulla, IPL 2011's Under-23 player of the tournament, played a crucial role for Kolkata Knight Riders on both offensive and defensive fronts. He was miserly with his left-arm spin, conceding only 6.10 runs an over - the fourth most economical bowler of those who sent down fifty overs or more in the tournament. He was also Kolkata's leading wicket-taker, with 16 wickets at 19.06, and had the scalps of batsmen like Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey and JP Duminy to his credit. The side's confidence in Abdulla was evident during the CLT20 qualifiers, when he opened the bowling in both games.
Peter Trego, Somerset
A hard-hitting allrounder who bowls medium pace, Peter Trego proved quite handy for Somerset with ball (v Auckland) and then bat (v Kolkata) during the CLT20 qualifiers. He had kicked off his Friends Life t20 2011 season with a knock of 55 from 37 balls against Hampshire that included three sixes, and went on to score 304 runs in the tournament, one of three Somerset batsmen to go past 300. Trego's role in the side gains further importance with Somerset missing four key batsmen in Marcus Trescothick, Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard for various reasons.
Ambati Rayudu, Mumbai Indians
Just 25 years old, Ambati Rayudu has already seen some dramatic fluctuations in his career. From leading India at the Under-19 level, he went to being cast out by the Indian board for choosing to join the Indian Cricket League. By the time he took the BCCI's amnesty offer in 2009, and signed to play for Mumbai Indians in the 2010 IPL, most had forgotten he was once touted as an India prospect. Two years of big scoring in the IPL - he was Mumbai's third-highest run-getter in 2010 and their second-highest in 2011 - have brought him back into the limelight, and his recovery reached a crescendo when he won Mumbai their last league game of the 2011 IPL with a six off the last ball. Though it is his Twenty20 exploits that have earned him most recognition, Rayudu is not per se a big hitter. He gets his runs through orthodox strokes, and when he innovates it is usually with cheeky flicks and cuts.
Saurabh Tiwary, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Mumbai Indians' run to the final of the 2010 IPL, after having failed to get to the knock-out rounds in the previous two seasons, had a lot to do with the contributions of Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary. A big-hitting left-hand batsman, who was part of the team that won the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, Tiwary's image was enhanced by the fact that he hailed from the same state as India's captain MS Dhoni, had long hair like Dhoni did in his younger days, and played in the same inelegant yet effective manner. In the 2010 IPL, he plundered 419 runs which earned him a call-up to India's one-day side, and when the players were auctioned again in 2011 Royal Challengers Bangalore were willing to cough up $1.6 million for him, more than they did for any other player. Tiwary, though, did not go past fifty once in the tournament and had a strike-rate of less than 100. His India prospects have also taken a dive after he was ignored for the one-dayers in West Indies and England, and the Champions League is an opportunity for him to prove he is worth the exorbitant price Bangalore paid for him.
Samuel Badree, Trinidad & Tobago
Legspinner Samuel Badree has not managed to make a mark in first-class cricket, having only played 11 more first-class games since making his debut back in 2001-02. The Twenty20 format though has given his career a new lease of life: he first impressed for Trinidad & Tobago in the Stanford Super Series in 2008, and has since led a spin-heavy T&T attack in their Twenty20 tournaments. Badree is known more for his ability to keep the runs down than take wickets. In the 2010 Caribbean T20, he took only five wickets, less than several of his team-mates, but his remarkable economy-rate of 3.90 was the best of any bowler in the tournament. His miserliness has already been on display in the Champions League qualifiers, where he had figures of 2 for 7 in his four overs in T&T's match against Leicestershire.
Richard Levi, Cape Cobras
A quick-scoring opening batsman, Richard Levi played a prominent role in Cape Cobras' winning campaign in the 2010-11 Pro20 Series in South Africa. He was the side's second-highest run-getter, with 258 runs from eight innings at a strike-rate of 145.76. His 60 off 31 balls in the semi-final helped Cobras chase 223 against Titans and he scored an important 45 in the final versus Warriors. His strong domestic season earned him a place in the South Africa Emerging Players squad for the recent tournament in Australia, where he scored an unbeaten century in a three-day game against New Zealand A. Levi was part of the Cobras squad that came to India to play the 2009 Champions League, but did not get a game. This time, he is likely to play a big role in their campaign.
JJ Smuts, Warriors
Jon-Jon Trevor Smuts has struggled to find consistency in his short career as an opening batsman who also bowls left-arm spin. A poor Pro20 Series in 2009-10 meant he was consigned to the bench for the 2010 Champions League. He bounced back in the 2010-11 season, leading the run-charts for Warriors in their run to the Pro20 final, and going at just 6.58 an over with the ball. However, his form dipped again at the Emerging Players Tournament where he had a highest score of 39. He will have to dig himself out of that slump because with Davy Jacobs playing for Mumbai Indians in this year's Champions League, he will have to take the lead in getting Warriors off to solid starts. Also in the Warriors squad is his younger brother Kelly Smuts, who scored a half-century on Twenty20 debut in the Pro20 final.
Nikita Bastian and Dustin Silgardo are sub-editors at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Nikita Bastian
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