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Five things to look forward to in the fifth edition of the Champions League T20
September 16, 2013
Tendulkar, Dravid sign-off in coloured clothes
Dravid will have extra incentive to sign off on a high, not only for himself, but for his much beleaguered Rajasthan Royals franchise. Tendulkar, on the other hand, will be buoyed for different reasons as his Mumbai Indians franchise enter as IPL champions, and former winners of the tournament. Expect added intrigue when both batsmen mark their guard, with the home crowd leading the tributes.
Sangakkara for Kandurata
In what became an extended soap opera, Kumar Sangakkara, who has been an IPL regular since its inception, was put on the spot by the SLC to decide on whether he would represent his Sri Lankan franchise, Kandurata Maroons, or play for Sunrisers Hyderabad. In the end, he appeased the Sri Lankan board by choosing Kandurata.
With the addition of Sangakkara, Kandurata now boasts of a strong T20 squad. Nuwan Kulasekera is a dependable opening bowler, while Rangana Herath has experience and guile. Their biggest threat, though, is Ajantha Mendis, who holds the record for best T20I figures.
Misbah in a T20 avatar
After being dropped from the national T20 squad following Pakistan's series loss against England in the UAE, Misbah-ul-Haq has become one of the most consistent batsmen in limited-overs cricket. Since his last T20I in late February 2012, Misbah has scored 1306 ODI runs in 34 matches at an average of 52.24. Prior to that, his average was 10 points lower, at 42.31. He has also hit 13 half-centuries in that period, which is sizable when you consider he has 31 in all.
With Faisalabad Wolves qualifying, this tournament will provide a chance for the Pakistan captain to stamp his authority on the shortest format, and hopefully find a route back into Pakistan's T20I team. His domestic record this year highlights his form, as he finished as top scorer of the Faysal Bank Super Eight T20 Cup. He was the only batsman to crack 200 runs, and managed to score them at a healthy strike rate of 140.
Trinidad & Tobago bring the flair
Trinidad & Tobago enter each T20 tournament as one of the favourites. This time, they also possess the number one ranked T20I bowler in Sunil Narine, while also harbouring some dynamic batsmen as well. A top order of Adrian Barath, Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo can be a handful for any bowling attack, while Samuel Badree, the legspinner, can open the bowling with competence.
T&T's recent tournament record has not been good, having failed to make the semi-finals over the last few years, but they did feature in the inaugural final. With the confidence of West Indies' T20 World Cup win, and a number of those players representing T&T, they start the tournaments as strong contenders.
South African franchises bolstered
With some premier IPL teams not making the cut, a number of South African players, who would otherwise have been first-choice picks for their respective IPL franchises, now find themselves back in their domestic sides. Titans and Lions represent the South African contingent this year, with both sides featuring a number of accomplished players.
However, the failure of Delhi Daredevils and Royal Challengers Bangalore to qualify for this year's tournament means that players such as AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel are available for selection. Titans will be boosted with the arrival of de Villiers and Morkel, while Lions will enjoy having Quinton de Kock and Lonwabo Tsotsobe back in the fold. This provides a huge bonus to their chances at progression into the semi-finals, as most of these players have the ability to turn the course of a match.
Rohan Sharma is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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