Match facts

Saturday, September 11
Start time 17.30 (15.30 GMT)

Big Picture

This is just the second Champions League Twenty20 but it's already built a strong perception: that the IPL teams are at a disadvantage because they are just mercenaries, ronins who assemble for two months a year. The real "teams" like Warriors or South Australia know each other better and gel with each other so well that they hold the edge. This second edition could make or break that cliché.

Stephen Fleming, Chennai Super Kings' coach, is slightly nervous, since he too believes in that perception. Or so he says. "It's a big challenge for the IPL teams. They [teams like Central Districts] hold the advantage. They play a lot of cricket together. We just come together for two months in a year. We have used this week [of preparation] to get up to the speed. The best catalyst for that will be a win tomorrow. If things don't go well we have to work very hard to get back into the competition. Tomorrow is a very important day."

It certainly is as Chennai have been slow starters in the last two editions of the IPL. Fleming says he is desperate to change that bad habit. In a short competition like this, and especially against a relatively weaker team like Central Districts, you can't get off to a bad start.

There are a few other concerns. Some haven't played much competitive cricket. "Some players like Matthew Hayden are coming out of the cold," Fleming said. "So you work harder with them but they are experienced. If you push too hard you are making too much of an issue of it. On one hand we are trying to be relaxed about what we need to do but as a coaching group you are bit nervous as you want to do a bit more."

Not that their opponent Central Districts are riding a wave of confidence. Inclement weather hampered their preparations back home. They just have managed a week of proper practice, according to their new coach Alan Hunt. The injuries to Jacob Oram and Graham Napier, and the loss of Ross Taylor to Bangalore Royal Challengers have been huge setbacks.

Their strength is their mystery, their unknown quality. Even Fleming, a New Zealander, hasn't seen many of their youngsters. Not that Hunt is expecting any miracles from his young team. He sees this tournament as an opportunity for his boys get used to playing at this level, learn from the exposure, and go back home as a better team and better professionals. "If we can do that, I would be happy." Not many expect much from them. It puts them in perfect position to hurt a bigger team by an upset win.

Pitch and conditions

The pitches in the practice games have done quite a bit. The ball has swung and seamed around. Fleming called it "tricky". The locals reckon 150 should be a good score. It has been drizzling in the late evenings for the past few days though the sun came out strongly today to revive batsmen's hopes. Only time will tell how the pitch will behave.

Watch out for...

Michael Hussey is not the first name that springs to mind when you think of Twenty20. The Durban pitch could well put his talents at a premium. The ball is expected to seam and swing around. Hussey's compact batsmanship could help hold Chennai together. If he stays in for a few overs he can prove to be a terrific finisher.

Adam Milne, the 18-year-old lanky medium-fast bowler, grabbed four wickets in his debut first-class game last season after received a surprise call-up the night before. He has just played three first-class games. He doesn't have any Twenty20 or any List A experience at the domestic level. His coach Hunt, though, reckons he could be the most potent young talent in this team.

Key contests

Matthew Hayden v Milne Hayden is known for his ruthlessness. He is known for taking apart colts and Milne is definitely the new kid in the block. Hayden sees such inexperience as an invitation to impose himself, to showcase his imperious nature. The contest could reveal Milne's character.

Stats and trivia

  • Matthew Hayden didn't shine in the last IPL. Despite a score of 93 in one game, he only averaged 21. Six other Chennai players had better averages than him. That innings of 93, though, came in just 43 balls with seven sixes and nine fours.

Quotes

"They [Central Districts] have some youngsters even I don't know about. They ware bit of unknown quantity but they have a great attitude and fight for everything. It will be a tricky start for us to the competition."
Stephen Fleming is wary of his countrymen

"We are used to not having Jacob Oram around. We might not have the big stars but we have couple of young guys people don't know much. Some might call us underdogs; I expect the crowds to get behind us"
Jamie How Central Districts' captain presents a confident face

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo