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October 11, 2009
Somerset v Trinidad & Tobago, in BangaloreStart time: October 12, 10:30 GMT
Alfonso Thomas' brace of last-over boundaries against Deccan Chargers - the difference between victory and defeat - has put Somerset in a position to claim top spot in Group A of the Champions League. All that stands between them and certainly carrying forward points into the next round are the Stanford 20/20 champions, Trinidad and Tobago, whose talents haven't been revealed in India yet.
Somerset's strength lies in their top-order batsmen: the opening partnership of Marcus Trescothick and Justin Langer, followed by the hitting abilities of Craig Kieswetter, Arul Suppiah and Peter Trego. It's a line-up capable of remarkable feats and they proved that by successfully chasing 476 in 85.3 overs to beat Yorkshire this season, with Trego blazing to a 54-ball 103, though the four-day County Championship demands different skills from what Twenty20 does. That top order failed in Hyderabad, however, and Somerset had to scrap hard against Deccan, relying on an eleventh-hour cameo from Thomas for their two points. They go into the game against T&T with the slight advantage of already having experienced Indian conditions, although they will be playing at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore for the first time.
T&T have a game's breathing space - since Deccan are already in the red - but their situation will become do-or-die should they slip against Somerset. A defeat on Monday will leave them needing to beat Deccan under lights in front of a home crowd in their final group game in order to progress to round two. The good thing, though, about starting their campaign later than other teams is that T&T's fate is in their own hands.
Watch out for
Lendl Simmons ended the ICC World Twenty20 with two ducks but, before those disappointments, he blitzed 77 off 50 balls against tournament favourites South Africa when no other West Indian batsman made more than 20. T&T have three other openers to choose from - Daren Ganga, Kieron Pollard and Adrian Barath - but Simmons is likely to be first choice.
The Bravo brothers, Dwayne with his all-round skills and Darren the stylish batsman, will also lift their team-mates with their energy in the field. Dwayne, the most experienced in the T&T squad with Indian conditions, will bear immense responsibility, for his team will look to him to attack and consolidate with the bat, and send down four canny overs as well.
Dave Mohammed belongs to that rare breed of bowlers - the chinaman. How he adapts to Indian pitches, and whether he is able to use them to his advantage against batsmen unfamiliar with his style of bowling, could be crucial to how an inexperienced attack fares in hostile bowling conditions.
Trescothick and Langer added only 16 for the first wicket in the opening game and Somerset collapsed thereafter from 50 for 1 to 99 for 7. They are Somerset's most experienced batsmen and how they fare could set the tone once again for the rest of the innings.
Bangalore v Otago, in BangaloreStart time: October 12, 14:30 GMT
The winner of Monday's day-night clash at the Chinnaswamy Stadium will join Cape Cobras in the second round from Group C. It's as simple as that. Both the Bangalore and Otago bowling attacks were bruised by the South African domestic champions in their opening matches leaving them with a lot to do even if they make it past the first round of elimination. Bangalore have a net run-rate of -0.356, Otago's is -2.70, and no points will be carried forward no matter who wins tomorrow. Bangalore have the home advantage - they will be familiar with conditions and a strong crowd will back them - but they had that against the Cobras and couldn't finish on top. Kumble was critical of his team's fielding in the opening game and another loose performance against Otago could give the underdogs the room they need to cause an upset. Otago started the competition with an outside chance but an inspirational performance, emulating Daniel Vettori's team, could eliminate the first IPL team from the Champions League.
Watch out for:
Bangalore's South African nationals, Roelof van der Merwe and Mark Boucher, didn't have an opportunity to showcase their batting skills against the Cobras for they were held back while India's budding talents, Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey, were given a go in the slog overs. That could change, though, if a similar situation, where Bangalore need quick runs in the final overs, should arise.
Praveen Kumar was a handful with the new ball, troubling the Cobras top order with lateral movement under lights. He picked up two early wickets and finished the game with 3 for 32. Similar success against Otago could prove decisive for they do not possess the batting depth that the Cobras did.
Brendon McCullum will be returning to the scene of his most famous innings. He provided the inaugural edition of the IPL a rollicking start by smashing an unbeaten 158 off 73 balls against the same opponents his team needs to beat on Monday. That innings increased manifold the expectations on McCullum and he's found it difficult to reproduce anything similar since. He scored 21 off 17 against the Cobras but was run out as his innings was taking flight.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?