Victoria take on Warriors in heavyweight clash
Match factsWarriors v Victoria, Monday, September 13
Start time 17.30 (15.30 GMT)
Big PictureOnce Victoria Bushrangers take the field against the Warriors at St. George's Park on Friday, all the contenders for the Champions League Twenty20 would have been in action. Victoria are perhaps the side with the best pedigree in the tournament. They have won the Big Bash four out of five times, finished runners-up once, and qualified for this year's event as Australia's champions. They were semi-finalists in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 in India as well.
Victoria, however, are without three excellent Twenty20 players, all of whom played a part in their Big Bash triumph. Royal Challengers Bangalore bought the services of their power-hitters Cameron White and Ross Taylor for these two weeks, while Mumbai Indians retained allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who was also one of Victoria's overseas players last season. Those losses have weakened a line-up that could have been the tournament's most formidable but Victoria still possess a strong engine room - David Hussey and Brad Hodge - and an incisive arsenal, which includes fast bowlers Dirk Nannes, Shane Harwood, Clint McKay and Peter Siddle.
They will kick-off their Champions League campaign against South Africa's domestic champions and one of the stronger sides in the competition. The Warriors entered the tournament $200,000 richer because Bangalore wanted the all-round skills of Jacques Kallis, but his loss has been made up for by a squad filled with proven South African stars and domestic players who can hold their own.
Their bowling line-up - Juan Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Makhaya Ntini and Johan Botha - matches Victoria's quality and their top order sparkled in the opening game against Wayamba. Colin Ingram and Justin Kreusch, little-known domestic performers, powered Warriors' chase of 154 and set it up for Mark Boucher to finish off, which he did brutally.
Victoria announced their XI on the morning of the match, and left out bowlers Bryce McGain, James Pattinson, and Siddle, as well as reserve wicketkeeper Ryan Carters.
"With the depth of our bowling stocks available for selection at present, Peter, James and Bryce are all very unlucky to miss today's game," Victoria's chairman of selectors, John MacWhirter, said. "The selected team is evenly balanced and extremely flexible, which we believe will be important to tackle the Warriors in their home conditions at the St Georges Park Ground."
The pace attack will be led by Nannes and Harwood, with seam bowling support from McKay, Andrew McDonald and John Hastings. Glenn Maxwell, Hussey and Hodge are spin options if required.
Victoria Bushrangers: 1 Brad Hodge, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 David Hussey (capt), 4 Rob Quiney, 5 Andrew McDonald, 6 Matthew Wade (wk), 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 John Hastings, 9 Clint McKay, 10 Shane Harwood, 11 Dirk Nannes.
There was no specific news from the Warriors camp and they could field the same XI that brushed Wayamba aside.
Warriors: 1 Davey Jacobs (capt), 2 Ashwell Prince, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Justin Kreusch, 5 Mark Boucher, 6 Johan Botha, 7 Craig Thyssen, 8 Nicky Boje, 9 Rusty Theron, 10 Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Watch out for ...Victoria have plenty of internationals in their side but the lesser-known John Hastings is one to watch for the future. An allrounder who topped Victoria's wicket tally in all three formats last season, Hastings is a clever medium-fast bowler who should enjoy working on the South African pitches. He does not have the pace of Nannes or Harwood, but expect him to play an important role if Victoria are to succeed in the tournament.
Rusty Theron's street cred is that of a death-over specialist, when he bowls full and straight to thwart batsmen intent on hitting sixes. Against Wayamba, however, Theron threw two decisive punches in the first over of the game, dismissing Mahela Jayawardene and Mahela Udawatte. A similar start against Victoria will go a long way towards securing a Warriors victory against one of the tougher teams in their group.
Key contestWarriors batsmen v Dirk Nannes: Warriors' top and middle order were able to score at a rousing pace against Wayamba's fast bowlers, but they'll have a tougher time reproducing that against Nannes, whose steep bounce and slant across the right-handers will be tough to get away. Expect Hussey to deploy Nannes when Mark Boucher attempts to wreak havoc.
Stats and trivia
- Colin Ingram, with 283 runs at a strike-rate of 144 in eight matches, was the highest run-scorer in South Africa's Pro20 series in 2009-10.
- Allrounder John Hastings was Victoria's top wicket-taker during the 2009-10 Big Bash, taking ten wickets in seven games.
Quotes"We've probably started favourites in most of the domestic competitions and we made the final four last year, so there's definitely an air of excitement and confidence this year."
David Hussey fancies Victoria's chances in the Champions League
George Binoy is an assistant editor at Cricinfo