Auckland need to win, then need luck
October 23, 2012
Start time 1330 local (1130 GMT)
The Champions League rolls on to its final day of league matches, and the semi-finalists are yet to be decided from Group A. The other group, in contrast, wasn't quite as open or competitive, with Sydney Sixers and Lions already booking their slots in the semis, thereby making Monday's games inconsequential.
As for the opening game on Tuesday, only one of the two teams has something to play for. Auckland Aces are currently third with six points and need to beat Perth Scorchers to keep their hopes alive. An outright win will take them to ten points. Their progression will then depend on the result of the second game of the evening, between Delhi Daredevils and Titans. Daredevils will move to 14 points if they win, but if they lose, they will be locked on 10 points with Auckland, and therefore only one of the two will progress, based on superior net run-rate. If Auckland can secure their four points tomorrow, they will hope for a Daredevils victory as it cuts out the net-run-rate scenario.
There's nothing at stake for Perth, though, who were eliminated after losing to Daredevils in a low-scorer at Newlands. Following two consecutive defeats, the Australian side would want to save face with a consolation win. A Perth win will make the second game a dead rubber. Auckland were properly tested for the first time last week when they lost comprehensively to the Titans at Kingsmead. After restricting teams to below-par totals from the qualifying stage, they were set to chase 173, but fell 59 short. Their next game, against Daredevils, was washed out without a ball bowled. Auckland will hope the weather cooperates at Centurion, so they can pick up four points. They have to win, and then watch.
Auckland will be without their allrounder Andre Adams, who picked up a abdominal muscle tear while batting against Titans. Having returned home, he is likely to be out for up to three weeks.
Watch out for...
Lou Vincent has made starts, with scores of 20, 19, 30 and 6, but hasn't lasted more than 16 balls in any innings. He's in the side to provide strong starts, and a lengthier stint at the crease should make a difference. Vincent has reportedly been keeping the team's spirits alive by giving "motivational speeches" with his Justin Bieber doll. Some runs with the bat will lift the team greater.
Perth's Mitchell Marsh has hit one of the biggest sixes in the tournament and is the only player from the squad to score 100 runs or more. Perth have only managed scores of 124 (chasing 164) and 121 in their two completed games and if Marsh can fire at the top, he could help his team to an above-par score and test Auckland.
"We certainly haven't played anywhere near what we did last summer, and hopefully that's going to bug quite a few of the guys to put in a good performance to finish well."
Perth batsman Simon Katich
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo