Warriors v South Australia, 2nd semi-final, Centurion September 24, 2010

Little to choose in knockout fight

Match facts

Saturday, September 25
Start time 1730 (1530 GMT)

Big Picture

The progress of South Australia Redbacks and the Warriors to the semi-finals owes as much to inspiring leadership as much as it does to all-round excellence. Michael Klinger's solidity at the top of the order, which has earned him three half-centuries, and Davy Jacobs' explosive openings together with some acrobatic fielding, have influenced the teams. The middle orders have rallied along while the opening seamers have stepped up amid support from the rest of the attack.

Both lack the star value of the IPL teams they've encountered in the run-up to the knockout stage but have infused their share of excitement into the Champions League: Warriors, by keeping the local interest alive by reaching this far and South Australia, by pulling off a surprise given the absence of Kieron Pollard and Shahid Afridi, who had revived the team's domestic season in the Twenty20 tournament after they had been battered in other formats.

Little separates the two going into Saturday's clash but it'll be interesting to see how the two spin attacks compete on a traditionally batting-friendly Centurion surface. Left-arm spinner Aaron O'Brien and legspinner Cullen Bailey have largely played a supporting role and met with some harsh treatment, unlike Johan Botha, whose accuracy has had a crippling effect on the opposition in the middle overs. A possible source of weakness for South Australia is an area of strength for the Warriors - a potential decider in a seemingly even contest.

Team news

The performance of wicketkeeper-batsman Graham Manou, who's averaged 9.75 in four games thus far, will be a bit of a worry for South Australia. The middle order had a good crack at Guyana with Callum Ferguson and Cameron Borgas shining through - could that prompt a tweak in the batting order?

South Australia (possible): 1 Michael Klinger (capt), 2 Daniel Harris, 3 Callum Ferguson, 4 Cameron Borgas, 5 Daniel Christian, 6 Graham Manou (wk), 7 Tom Cooper, 8 Aaron O'Brien, 9 Gary Putland, 10 Cullen Bailey, 11 Shaun Tait.

The Warriors stuck with the same team in their four league games and it is unlikely, injuries notwithstanding, they'll make any changes.

Warriors (possible): 1 Davy Jacobs (wk), 2 Ashwell Prince, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Justin Kreusch, 5 Mark Boucher (wk), 6 Craig Thyssen, 7 Johan Botha, 8 Nicky Boje, 9 Rusty Theron, 10 Makhaya Ntini, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Watch out for ...

Gary Putland: He made his List A debut for South Australia in 2005 but his opportunities have been fairly limited. He has been noticed lesser than his fast-bowling partner Shaun Tait, and has had a mixed tournament so far. His three wickets have come at an economy rate of over eight, and he needs to step up with his left-arm pace upfront. South Australia have been more generous than the Warriors in terms of conceding runs - teams have scored more than 150 against them in each of the four games - and some early pressure from Putland, known for his ability to move the ball around, will help in breaking the trend.

Justin Kreusch: He would remind you of New Zealand's proud tradition of dibbly-dobbly bowlers and highly capable allrounders. He played a decisive role in his team's qualification for the semis, choking Chennai with 3 for 19 in four overs and chipping in with 25 to help his side past the qualification target. Ideally suited for the limited-overs format, Kreusch could be a key player, both as a support bowler and in the middle order.

Key contests

Opening partnerships: Klinger and Daniel Harris, Jacobs and Ashwell Prince have helped lay the platform for their sides with productive stands right through the tournament. In each, there has been one dominant partner: Klinger, the more assured, has led the way for South Australia while Jacobs, the more belligerent, has done so for the Warriors. There will be pace and movement to contend against Tait while some nagging accuracy and variations from Rusty Theron. Which of the two pairs will emerge more successful?

Quotes

"Four in four, we're super-confident"
Michael Klinger, the South Australia captain

Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at Cricinfo