Confident Otago look to extend winning run
Match factsSunday, September 29, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big PictureAfter the highs of reaching the final of last year's Champions League, Lions find themselves in a situation where even a win on Sunday might not guarantee them a place in the knockouts. With two defeats in three completed games, Lions will not only have to beat Otago but hope for other results to go their way to get a backdoor entry to the semi-finals. That, though looks unlikely with Rajasthan Royals already on top with eight points and Otago on six and both teams still have two more league games to play. Lions conceded too many in their first defeat to Royals (183) and in the second, against Mumbai Indians, didn't make enough (140). Their tournament could end on Sunday, so the best they can do is make the passage to the semis a little tougher for Otago.
Otago made it through the qualifiers unbeaten and have already emerged as one of the teams to beat. They piled on the tournament's highest team score, 242, against Perth Scorchers after losing two wickets off successive balls at the start of their innings. Their strength lies in the presence of big-hitting allrounders in the middle order, including Ryan ten Doeschate, wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder and Nathan McCullum. James Neesham, another allrounder, said that the depth in batting allows them to play aggressively at all times. Right through the qualifiers, their top order has carried them through with their captain Brendon McCullum leading the way. A win for Otago will give them a chance to go to the top of the table, should Royals lose the second match of the Sunday double-header.
In the spotlight
Aaron Phangiso was one of the revelations of the Champions League last year, finishing with ten wickets with an economy rate of less than six. The Lions left-arm spinner thrived in conditions at home - clean bowling Sachin Tendulkar in the process - but ironically, has so far struggled in more spinner-friendly conditions in India. His four overs against Royals went for 52 and against Mumbai he was taken off after his only over leaked ten. Expensive and with no wickets to show for, Phangiso's fortunes are quite a contrast to last year's.
In three innings so far, Ryan ten Doeschate already has two 60-plus scores, both scored at strike-rates of 200 and above. Ten Doeschate has been in destructive form in the middle overs, smashing six sixes against a shell-shocked Perth Scorchers in their last game. The Netherlands allrounder has been a valuable finisher for Otago.
"We are probably quite lucky that the wickets aren't typical Indian wickets. We are used to something similar, and it's what we play on back home in New Zealand where we do have sporting wickets around the country and wickets that can keep a bit low at times."
Otago wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder on how they have settled so easily in Indian conditions
"We still have a mathematical chance of making it. Hopefully the Scorchers can beat Mumbai and Otago can do us some favours."
Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana on what needs to work for them if they are to progress to the semis
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo