Deserving teams set up summit battle
Friday, October 23
Start time 20.00 (14.30GMT)
Big PictureThe Champions League Twenty20 gets the final it deserves: two champion teams at the peak of their prowess will clash for the trophy. None of the hyped IPL sides made it and none of the weaker teams managed to sneak in. The two finalists couldn't be more contrasting in nature. It's easy to use the obvious comparison of professionalism vs flair for the title clash between New South Wales and Trinidad & Tobago but it would be a mistake. T&T's flamboyance stands out from a mile, of course, but it's the case of a disciplined structure that has allowed the players to express themselves.
And again, NSW's discipline sticks out easily but they possess players such as Brett Lee and their two dynamic and unconventional openers, Phillip Hughes and David Warner, who ooze flair. It is in fact a battle between a disciplined team that has added flair and a team oozing style that has added some structure and order.
NSW in many ways have already shown that they are the most organised team of the competition while T&T, the winners of three regional one-day titles and the Stanford 20/20 prize, have shown that they are the team to beat. It's game on.
T&T possess dazzling batsmen like Adrian Barath, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, William Perkins and canny medium-pacers in Bravo and Ravi Rampaul and they have easily the best spinner of the tournament in Dave Mohammed and a very miserly one in Sherwin Ganga. It's almost a perfectly balanced side especially when you add in the sensible Daren Ganga, the most vital cog in the wheel, who has done an admirable job in ensuring that the adrenalin rush of his exuberant team-mates never goes overboard.
For their part, NSW possess the most destructive openers in Warner and Hughes and good middle-order batsmen in Simon Katich, Moises Henriques, Ben Rohrer and Daniel Smith. The bowling has been led by the fiery Lee, the canny Stuart Clark, the steady Doug Bollinger and the vastly improving Nathan Hauritz. They have adapted to the different surfaces thrown at them and have come out on top. It's perhaps no coincidence that NSW's sole defeat came against T&T. That night it took an out-of-the-world knock from Pollard to defeat them and NSW would like to think that lightning can't strike twice.
Watch out for ...
Katich and Daren Ganga: When you think of Twenty20, you don't think of either Ganga or Katich but it's these two men who have done a stand-out job in leading the sides to the finale. Ganga has channeled the manic energy of his flamboyant team-mates well and has made all the correct decisions in the field. If only Ganga was a more dynamic batsman, he could well have led West Indies. Similarly, if Katich, who of course is a far better batsman than Ganga, had managed to get a consistent spot in the powerful Australian side, he could well have led the national side at some point.
Adrian Barath and Kieron Pollard: Twenty20 cricket can be a tricky platform to judge real talent but Barath, in two sparkling innings, has shown that he has the talent to play for West Indies. He indulged himself in the last league game and played a sparkling cameo in a pressure-cooker scenario in the semi-final.
Pollard didn't have to extend himself with the bat after that unbelievable assault against NSW but has continued to chip away with his bowling. He has the power game to match Dwayne Smith and Ricardo Powell but unlike them, he seems to be more disciplined in his craft. Rarely does he swing wildly across the line and seems to possess the temperament to choose the bowlers to take on.
Brett Lee v T&T's top order: He mostly just gets two overs with the new ball but he has bowled with venom to get the early strikes for his team. He has got swing and has not been shy in using the short ball. He will be given the licence to go after the flamboyant T&T top order and it should make for a fascinating watching experience.
Hughes and Warner: We know they can be almost violent in their strokeplay. They even conquered the slow pitch of Delhi to unleash hell on their opponents. The last time the two teams played each other, it was the offspinner Sherwin Ganga and the chinaman bowler Mohammed who kept these two left-handed openers relatively quiet. Ganga started with spin in the semi-final; will he go for it again to try upsetting the rhythm of the NSW openers?
Dave Mohammed The best spinner of the tournament has left everyone wondering why he is not playing for West Indies. He has tormented the batsmen with his guile and variations and pleased the crowd with his celebrations. Will his special shoe-phone celebration be unfurled in the final? He has the ability to spin it away from the left-handed openers and is likely to pose a few problems.
Quotes"We were a little off in the game against T&T. It came at a good time and it didn't cost us too badly and instead motivated us to make sure we went up a gear in the remaining games and that showed [in the semi-final]"
NSW's captain Simon Katich says they were spurred on to higher things by their defeat against T&T
"The atmosphere is conducive to learning, so the players have the opportunity to express themselves. They are taught self-governance."
Colin Borde, the T&T manager, sums up the positive mood in the camp.
"As batters, every single batter is aware as to where he needs to be after a particular over. We are hitting those targets very easily as a team."
Daren Ganga reveals his team's strategy
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo