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The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran
October 27, 2012
October 28, 2012
Start time 1730 local (1530 GMT)
The Champions League T20 may be the ugly step-sister of the cricketing world, with most fans giving it the cold shoulder, but for many of the players involved the final will be the biggest payday of their lives. With the champions getting a cool $2.5m, the money on offer will bump players, especially those who aren't part of national teams or aren't globetrotting T20 specialists, up a tax bracket or two. Adding to the occasion will be the sell-out crowd at one of cricket's iconic venues, the Wanderers Stadium, which will make it among the biggest audiences some of the domestic players will play in front of.
And contesting the final are the two most consistent sides of the tournament. Lions weren't topping anybody's list of favourites when the tournament began, but they have exceeded expectations through a combination of teamwork and temperament, keeping their head when things start to get tight. They have plenty going for them. The Wanderers is their home ground, and no one knows the conditions there better than Lions. The diversity in their batting - Twenty20 batting doesn't get too much more of a contrast than the leg-side biffing of Ghulam Bodi and the surgical precision of Neil McKenzie - has been married to consistency through the tournament. And the bowling has four match-winners: their two imports Dirk Nannes and Sohail Tanvir, their best bowler in the domestic tournament, Chris Morris, and one of the bowlers of the CLT20, Aaron Phangiso.
Their one reverse in this tournament came against their opponents in the final, Sydney Sixers. When the Big Bash League was launched a year ago, Sydney Sixers were the butt of jokes for their flamboyantly pink outfits, a colour which they started to refer to as 'mangenta'. A year on, they have earned the respect of Twenty20 fans after winning the inaugural BBL, and are yet to drop a game in the CLT20.
They came into the tournament as one of the leading contenders and have so far lived up to the tag, despite losing the services of Dwayne Bravo and Brett Lee to IPL teams, and that of possibly the most valuable player currently in T20 cricket, Shane Watson, midway through the tournament. They could also be without their captain, Brad Haddin, for the final, as he picked up a thumb injury - though he was fit enough to bat on Friday.
Watch out for…
Steve O'Keefe has opened the innings only three times in T20s: the semi-finals and final of the BBL, and Friday's CLT20 semi-final against Titans. On all three occasions he has made a significant contribution, including a Man of the Match performance against Titans. In addition, his left-arm spin has been taken for less than a run-a-ball this tournament.
Fast bowler Chris Morris was the top wicket-taker in South Africa's domestic Twenty20 competition last season, and he came into the CLT20 on the back of a 12-wicket haul against Dolphins in a first-class game. He started off quietly in this tournament but hit the headlines with his spell against Delhi Daredevils in the semi-finals, helping his team defend a sub-par score by taking the key wicket of David Warner and then killing off the game with scalp of Kevin Pietersen.
Weather and conditions
Despite gloomy weather forecasts, the showers thankfully stayed away during both semi-finals. The organisers will hope that trend continues for the final as well, when light rain is predicted.
Stats and trivia
"I think the middle overs will be important. We've dominated that period in almost all our games and I think that will play a massive role once again."
Lions captain Alviro Petersen on where he thinks the game will swing
"Lions are very desperate to win. This is a chance for the domestic teams to showcase their skills at the international stage."
Sydney Sixers allrounder Steve Smith knows the importance of the occasion
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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