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November 24, 2008
Middlesex captain Shaun Udal has said his side are comfortable being underdogs for the inaugural Champions League and believes they can spring another shock after the win against Kent in the final of the domestic Twenty20 Cup back in July.
"We were outsiders all summer, even up to the semi-finals, when there were four teams in it and we were 11-1 outsiders of four," he said. "We won in the end, by a hair's breadth, but we won. We were underdogs against Durham in the semis and won that, and again against Kent and won that. So we're happy with that and we'll just go out there and play our best cricket."
Middlesex will be England's representative at the competition, to be held in India from December 3-10, also featuring the top domestic Twenty20 teams from India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan.
"We're thrilled with the opportunity, and the challenge as well, to play against the best sides in world cricket from Australia, South Africa, India and from Pakistan as well," Udal said . "We're not only representing Middlesex but England as well out there so it is a huge honour for us. Now it's getting closer the nerves are starting to get going and the adrenalin is pumping."
Middlesex have been drawn in Group A with Victoria Bushrangers from Australia, Nashua Titans from South Africa and IPL runners-up Chennai Super Kings. The top two finishers will make it to the semis and face the top two from Group B (Western Australia, Sialkot Stallions of Pakistan, Nashua Dolphins from South Africa and IPL winners Rajasthan Royals).
Middlesex will want to put behind their disappointing campaign in the Stanford Super Series last month, when they lost all the three matches they played, against England, Trinidad & Tobago and the Stanford Superstars.
The absence of Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah may also dent Middlesex's chances as the club await the announcement of the England squad for the first Test against India in Ahmedabad on December 11. Both players may be available if they are not involved in England's warm-up match in Vadodara. Neil Dexter and Neil Carter will also be missing out as Champions League rules stated that clubs have to play with the same squad that won the domestic tournament.
Middlesex chief executive Vinny Codrington said the differing rules also worked against his side - with Indian teams allowed more foreign stars in their lineup.
"In our domestic competition we can only have one overseas player, whereas the two Indians teams can have four overseas players each," he said. "So we're starting a little bit behind them from that point of view."
The team is scheduled to fly out to India on Thursday and will take on Victoria in the opening match of the tournament at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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