South Australia aim to seal semis berth
Friday, September 17
Start time 17.30 (1530 GMT)
Group A features two of the most high profile and flamboyant IPL teams that are the tournament's main draw. But only one among them stands a chance of reaching the semi-finals if South Australia seal a place for themselves with a third successive win, against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Durban on Friday.
Bangalore warmed up by sweeping aside laggards Guyana while South Australia have fought determinedly to overcome the Lions and inflict a dispiriting defeat on Mumbai Indians. They lack the star value of their Indian opponents but have been led admirably by Michael Klinger, who has played a crucial role with the bat, scoring half-centuries in each of their games, with adequate back up. Their strength, as their two games have shown, lies in their batting which has significant depth. But against a power-packed Bangalore line-up, containment remains a stern challenge, one that South Australia's bowlers led by Shaun Tait have managed to meet with mixed results in their games so far.
Bangalore went in with left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi and allrounder B Akhil - they bowled four overs between them - in place of opener Manish Pandey and R Vinay Kumar in their first game. They could be tempted to retain the same side given their comfortable win and the slowishness of the Kingsmead track.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (probable) - 1 Jacques Kallis, 2 Rahul Dravid, 3 Robin Uthappa (wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Cameron White, 6 Virat Kohli, 7 B Akhil, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Anil Kumble (capt), Nayan Doshi.
South Australia have had to work hard for their victories and would want Graham Manou at No.3, who's had a poor tournament so far, to step up. They are likely to stick with the same winning XI for a game that could seal a semi-final berth.
South Australia: (probable) 1 Daniel Harris, 2 Michael Klinger (capt), 3 Graham Manou (wk), 4 Callum Ferguson, 5 Dan Christian, 6 Cameron Borgas, 7 Tom Cooper, 8 Aaron O'Brien, 9 Cullen Bailey, 10 Gary Putland, 11 Shaun Tait.
Watch out for…
Robin Uthappa was Bangalore's second-highest run-getter in the IPL this year and entertained the crowds with a combination of brute power and enterprise, particularly favouring the scoop and the reverse-sweep. He blasted 25 off eight balls against Guyana but it will be a different challenge against a more incisive attack. Nevertheless, in a format geared for power-play, Uthappa's game remains a crucial asset for Bangalore.
Tom Cooper has had a terrific time in international cricket, albeit against Associate nations when playing for Netherlands. Three half-centuries in his first three games and a century in his fifth have propelled his average in ODIs to 65.44, though he's batted lower in the order in T20s. He made an impact coming in at No.7 against Mumbai Indians, making a match-winning 19 in five balls in a big chase, but will South Australia consider pushing him up?
Bangalore's musclemen v South Australia's bowlers: Shaun Tait has been effective up front with four wickets in two games, but it will be interesting to see how the others cope against the muscle power of Uthappa, Ross Taylor and Cameron White. Dan Christian, Cullen Bailey and Aaron O'Brien were each targeted in the game against Mumbai. South Australia have conceded sizable scores in both their matches and can ill afford to let their guard down against players who can quickly transform the game.
South Australia openers v Steyn and Praveen: Daniel Harris and Michael Klinger braved probing spells from Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan during their century stand but with much luck amid some appalling fielding. The pace of Dale Steyn and the movement and swing Praveen Kumar generates is a similar challenge and the openers are unlikely to expect the same generosity from the Bangalore fielders.
Stats and Trivia
Ross Taylor has struck 11 sixes in the Champions League tournament, joint-second in the list and 17 behind Kieron Pollard. Michael Klinger's eight sixes in two games this year have put him in fourth place.
Anil Kumble's economy rate of 2.50 in Bangalore's previous game against Guyana is the best in the tournament for a spell of two or more overs. On the other hand, Aaron O'Brien's 49 runs in 4 overs against Mumbai are the worst figures for a bowler in this edition thus far.
"They are citing some strange rules for not allowing us to use the Kingsmead facilities. Today [Thursday] we could have had a morning session, say start at 8.30 am and finish at 11 am, long before either Mumbai or Guyana land up in the ground, but no, we were told to go to Chatsworth instead. I could have understood if the nets were inside the main ground and they wanted us to keep away on match day, but these nets are outside, so what's the problem."
Anil Kumble is unhappy about not being able to practise at Kingsmead.
"We were good in all departments and when you fire like that, you're in with a good chance."
Jacques Kallis aims for a repeat of the performance against Guyana.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo