In a clash between the runners-up of the Big Bash League, Perth Scorchers, and South Africa's T20 champions, the Lions, there is some common ground that the teams share, although their situations are different. Both have new coaches but for different reasons. The Scorchers will be coached by Justin Langer after a controversy during last year's Champions League, resulted in the resignation of the coach and captain. The Lions, on the other hand, have had a change in fortunes after they ended a five-season trophy drought with a win in the T20 competition earlier in the year under new coach Geoff Toyana.
Both teams also have decent spin attacks. The Scorchers have Brad Hogg, Ashton Agar, Michael Beer and Ashton Turner, the only right-arm spinner in the attack. The Lions, on the other hand, have Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso in the squad. The difference lies in Hogg's experience on Indian soil, gained from tours for Australia and IPL matches for Rajasthan Royals. Phangiso was the leading wicket-taker for Lions in the CLT20 held in South Africa last year, but bowling on Indian pitches will pose a steeper challenge.
However, the Scorchers have a depleted squad this time, depriving them of depth in batting and pace bowling. Shaun and Mitchell Marsh are out due to injured hamstrings, strike bowler Alfonso Thomas is with Somerset and two other players - Nathan Coulter-Nile and Michael Hussey - are representing their IPL teams, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, respectively. Lions' will only miss Chris Morris to Super Kings and their pace attack comprises Hardus Viljoen, Sohail Tanvir and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Both teams have another similarity that may trouble them: lack of experience in India. Barring Hogg, captain Simon Katich is the only player the Scorchers can look to for knowledge of subcontinent conditions. Lions have been elevated by the form of Quinton de Kock but his struggle in subcontinent conditions, 95 runs from six matches in Sri Lanka and six runs in three matches in the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad, will bother him.
Players to watch
Adam Voges may rescue the Scorchers' fortunes with his hard-hitting batting and part-time bowling. For a squad that misses at least three frontline batsmen, Voges could prove to be the pillar they can rely on and a run-machine they can resort look to for quick-hitting. His T20 strike rate of 131.13 from 117 matches at an average 31.56, including 12 fifties, is hard to ignore.
Imran Tahir, a bowler who has played ODIs only in the subcontinent, will lead the Lions' spin attack. On an Indian pitch against the Scorchers' inexperienced batsmen, Tahir could prove to be a trump card. He has the experience of playing in different conditions around the world and a successful tournament would do justice to his talent.