T&T look to gatecrash IPL teams' party
Match factsSaturday, October 5, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
After making the inaugural Champions League T20 final against New South Wales in 2009, Trinidad & Tobago have not reached the tournament's knockouts again. In this edition, the group stage got better and better for them. After a four-wicket loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad in their second match, they held on - helped by a late shower - in a must-win game against Titans, before shocking tournament favourites Chennai Super Kings in their final game. Their eight-wicket win against Super Kings was so comprehensive, they catapulted them into top place in Group B.
T&T's strength remains their bowling, specifically mystery spinner Sunil Narine who was the highest wicket-taker at the end of the group stage with eight scalps. While they've had the occasional sparkle from their batsmen - like Evin Lewis' quickfire 70 against Titans - it is primarily Narine, with some help from seamers Ravi Rampaul and Rayad Emrit, who has brought the team so far. Still, T&T, the only non-IPL team left in the tournament, are the underdogs in their semi-final encounter, as they face a star-laden Mumbai Indians line-up.
Mumbai's progression to the semi-finals was far trickier. A humbling seven-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals followed by a washout against Otago meant they faced an uphill task to go through. Upon securing a much-needed victory against Lions, they showed just what their power-packed batting is capable off, mowing down 150 in 13.2 overs (they needed to do so in 14.2) against Perth Scorchers to bump their net run rate over Otago and qualify.
They are the reigning IPL champions and, as their captain Rohit Sharma said after the win against Scorchers, seem to be peaking at the right time. Should T&T complete another giant killing, though, there'll be a footnote to the game: Mumbai's last game in this tournament is likely to be Sachin Tendulkar's last in limited-overs cricket. Also, Tendulkar is 26 runs short of 50,000 runs in all recognised cricket.
In the spotlight
Without a doubt, the performance of Sunil Narine can prove to be the breaking point for either team. His eight wickets have been worth their weight in gold - add to that his economy rate of 4.31 and his ability to strike at key moments of the game, and you know you've got a match-winner on your hands. Also, he has a good record against Mumbai - in five innings against them, he has taken 9 wickets, with an economy of 5.16.
Harbhajan Singh will be feeling the pressure, after claiming a solitary wicket for 72 runs in the competition so far. His Champions League record, overall, is average, with 13 wickets in 15 matches at an unflattering economy of 7.06. However, in his only other match against T&T, in the 2011 edition, he produced one of his best T20 spells with 3 for 22. He will hope to repeat - or better - come Saturday.
"Ramdin's men know my game well but I know theirs too, so it's going to be interesting this Saturday."
Mumbai Indians' Kieron Pollard on going up against his T&T team-mates
"Yes, we miss Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Kevon Cooper, but we're used to it now as it's been happening to us for years. The other guys are stepping up to the plate and that's good news for us."
David Williams, Trindad & Tobago coach
Rohan Sharma is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo