Champions League's Fab Four
Rilee Rossouw (123 runs at 30.75, Strike-rate - 130.85)
Allan Donald reckons he is an outrageous talent. His Eagles captain Boeta Dippenaar is willing to bet his mortgage if Rossouw doesn't play for South Africa in the next two years. Rossouw turned 20 on the day of the Eagles' first game of the Champions League earlier this month, but the celebrations were muted as he was trapped plumb on 1 by Brett Lee. However, the Rossouw, a left-hander, who plays with a crouched stance with snappy and powerful wrists, bounced back in the must-win encounter against Sussex in the next game, top scoring with 62 to be named Man of the Match. But it was in the 19-ball 44 while chasing 214 - the highest score in the tournament - raised by Trinidad and Tobago, where Rossouw combined his daring attitude with his wide array of shots, proving instrumental in the Eagles racing to the fastest team 50 (22 balls) and 100 in the tournament (55 balls). With Herschelle Gibbs in decline - he has been left out of the squad for the limited-overs series against England and Zimbabwe - expect Rossouw to live up to Donald and Dippennar's words soon.
CJ de Villiers (Six wickets at 12.16, Economy-rate - 6.63)
Sussex had forced the game into the one-over eliminator despite Rossouw's brilliant half-century. Eagles made nine, and when the power-hitting pair of Dwayne Smith and Luke Wright walked out, it was tempting to think that Sussex might have clinched it. But a tall, broad-shouldered, young man ran in hard twice, pitched a wee bit fuller both times and knocked out the off and the middle stumps off his first two balls respectively to get Eagles a deserved victory. Just for the record: he was playing his first game of the tournament. CJ de Villiers (no relation to Fanie de Villiers) had suffered from stress fracture after the Emerging Trophy tournament in Australia in August, where he was third in the list of highest wicket-takers, but he did his job in India without any fuss. Only 23, de Villers has a good wrist action, a knack of cutting the ball in, is very accurate as well as receptive, and a good learner. In the Sussex game, he bowled one-change. Next match, he shared the new ball and finished with 4-2-17-4, the best bowling performance in the tournament. When he stood in front of his hero Glenn McGrath, not a word came to his lips. He was just happy to stand in front of his idol. Good, for McGrath let the ball do the talking.
Adrian Barath (106 runs at 35.33, Strike-rate - 168.25)
Playing his maiden Twenty20 game, which he kept calling an "international", Adrian Barath announced his arrival on the global front in striking fashion with a spectacular half-century. The innings featured some amazing cuts and drives and helped Trinidad and Tobago become the only team to record a 200-plus total in the Champions League. Three days later he returned to give another solid start, this time in the semi-final against Cobras, and enabled them to get past 50 in the first six overs. Next evening, in the final against New South Wales, his inexperience was exposed as he got greedy and paid dearly when, having carted the legspinner Steven Smith for consecutive fours and a six, he tried to cut hard too close to the body. But Barath, who is short, stout, and strong, has a distinct ball sense and a trigger movement so fast that he quickly gets behind the delivery and in position to smash it where he wishes. When he leapt off the crease and uppercut Monde Zondeki's climbing outswinger over point for a six, he pulled off one of the best shots of the tournament. Just 19, Barath looks and walks his age. The only thing that belies his youth is that confidence he exudes at the crease, and in his own ability, without any fear. No wonder Brian Lara turned his head on seeing Barath for the first time.
William Perkins (129 runs at 21.50, Strike-rate 130.30)
In an important game against Deccan Chargers, where a win or T&T would ensure they carried two points to the next stage, Daren Ganga put his hand around his young opener Perkins and conveyed his gut feeling - the day would belong to him. Those words proved inspirational, as Perkins's circumspect 38 kept T&T from falling apart after two top-order wickets fell in succession. Perkins lacks the range of a Barath, but is an equally hard-hitting batsman. He has shown the hunger and, with the right guidance, can play an able foil to the slightly better-equipped Barath and Lendl Simmons. More importantly, he is a self-taught individual, who has been living on his own in Trinidad, having moved there form Florida where he lived the better part of his teenage years.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo