Trans-Tasman showdown in Jaipur
Preview of the group A match between Otago Volts and Perth Scorchers in Jaipur
September 25, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030GMT)
With their first match rained out, Perth Scorchers will be itching to get out on the field and prove their worth in the tournament. This, however, will prove a difficult exercise for the Big Bash League runners-ups, as they have arrived without their stars and match-winners, with players like Nathan Coulter-Nile, Shaun Tait, Alfonso Thomas, and the Marsh brothers not in the squad. Instead, Simon Katich leads a side which is a mix of youth and experience, with Ashton Agar, at 19, being their youngest player and Brad Hogg, at 42 years, their oldest. The side still has some international experience with the likes of Adam Voges and Marcus North in the fold.
Otago Volts, on the other hand, have simply been on a roll. Led by Brendon McCullum's bat, they went undefeated during the qualification stage, with their bowlers also clicking at vital junctures. Their first group-stage match against Mumbai Indians, which could have provided them a measure of how strong the opposition are going to be in the main draw, was also washed out. However, after playing the qualifiers, they are better prepared than most. The seamers were effective on the pace-friendly pitch in Mohali, with Ian Butler, Jimmy Neesham and Neil Wagner, all chipping in, and they are likely to find conditions in Jaipur in their favour again.
Perth will be at a slight disadvantage as they have yet to play in Indian conditions, and as such, will need some time, potentially some matches, to get the gist of the pitches on offer. Katich will have to draw upon his own experiences as a Test batsman who has played in India, when he leads his team out on the field. Otago, however, will take inspiration from their results thus far, and the powerful show of Hamish Rutherford and McCullum at the top of the order.
Players to watch
Without a doubt, Brad Hogg holds the key in Perth's rather sparse bowling attack. He has been a part of the Rajasthan Royals squad for the past two IPL seasons, and also holds valuable experience at the international level. At this year's Big Bash League, he finished joint-fourth on the wicket-takers list with 11, and has provided good returns during the IPL in recent times. Hamish Rutherford has shown how dangerous he can be in his brief appearances at the crease during the qualifiers. In the first match against Faisalabad Wolves, he smashed a 12-ball 25, which included three huge hits over the boundary. If he can find a way to stay at the crease, then he could become a real problem for the opposition captain.
"The four teams in our pool are tough, but we don't feel like underdogs. We feel we are good enough to match these teams; whether that means winning or not is a different story."
Ryan ten Doeschate, Otago Volts allrounder
"This tournament is about grabbing the opportunity. It might never come around again. We have to have an eye on the future as much as this just being about today."
Perth Scorchers captain Simon Katich
Rohan Sharma is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo