The second edition of the Champions League features ten of the best domestic Twenty20 sides, bringing together some big names and several new faces. Cricinfo's primer brings you up close with the ten teams in the fray
Central Districts Stags
How they made it: Winners of the HRV Cup 2009/10
Captain Jamie How
Headliner Mathew Sinclair
Ross Taylor blasted Central Districts into this competition with a 30-ball 80 in New Zealand's domestic final, but he will be playing for Bangalore in South Africa after being held to his IPL contract. It's a big loss for his home team, which will now place extra reliance on the senior men in Jamie How's side. To add to that, Jacob Oram has been ruled out due to a knee injury, and has been replaced by the 18-year old allrounder Ben Wheeler, who played in the Under-19 World Cup this year. Central Districts' batting will depend largely on Peter Ingram, who is with New Zealand's one-day outfit in Sri Lanka, and Mathew Sinclair, who also brings some big-game experience. Michael Mason, the 35-year-old fast bowler, leads the attack but the spin of How and George Worker will be important if the pitches are on the slow side. "Our aim is to be competitive, and we certainly think a semi-final spot is realistic," the coach Alan Hunt said. "We'll have to fly under the radar."
Chennai Super Kings
How they made it: Winners of IPL 2010
Captain: MS Dhoni
Headliner: R Ashwin
Chennai were dawdling in the initial stages of IPL 2010 as their bowling looked weak and even the big names in their batting line-up like Matthew Hayden weren't firing. Eventually, the revival was triggered by the local players like R Ashwin and Murali Vijay. The turnaround came in the game against the table-toppers Mumbai Indians when Ashwin starred in an upset win. Vijay started to find his groove, Suresh Raina started to get the big scores, and the team began to look more potent. Raina led the batting charts with 520 runs at an average of 47.27 and Vijay compiled 458 runs at 35.23. Muttiah Muralitharan had played his part in the first half of the tournament, picking up 15 wickets at 21.93 and Ashwin starred in the latter half, picking up 13 wickets at 22.53. For a major part, Chennai were struggling to find good bowlers in the end overs but Doug Bollinger's arrival (12 wickets at 17.25) changed things. Shadab Jakati, the left-arm spinner, was the surprise package with 13 wickets at 22.38.
How they made it: Winners of the Big Bash 2009/10
Captain: David Hussey
Headliner: Dirk Nannes
The IPL hasn't been kind to Victoria in this competition. Last year it was Dirk Nannes who was tied to Delhi; this time the Indian franchises have the captain Cameron White (Bangalore) and both imports, Dwayne Bravo (Mumbai Indians) and Ross Taylor (Bangalore). These are serious setbacks, although the Bushrangers did not become the most adept short-form team in Australia by relying on overseas talent alone. David Hussey, the new leader, and Brad Hodge are in the elite bracket when it comes to Twenty20 batting, while Nannes is back in blue and Peter Siddle is on the comeback trail from stress fractures. John Hastings, Shane Harwood and Bryce McGain are experienced bowling campaigners while Matthew Wade, the wicketkeeper-batsman, is a brutal hitter. Given the talent drain, a repeat of the semi-final berth last year would be a strong achievement.
How they made it: Winners of SLC Inter-provincial Twenty20 2009/10
Captain: Jehan Mubarak
Headliner: Mahela Jayawardene
Wayamba, the undisputed domestic Twenty20 champions of Sri Lanka, will be eager to make their second appearance in the Champions League count. Mahela Jayawardene plundered 293 runs opening the batting for them in the SLC Inter-provincial tournament and has not looked back since. Supporting him at the top is Jeevantha Kulatunga, who was also among the runs and with Jehan Mubarak at one-drop, the batting engine room is in safe hands. They will be complemented by a group of dangerous and unconventional bowlers such as Ajantha Mendis, Isuru Udana, Thisara Perera, and Chanaka Welegedara, who accounted for 34 wickets among them in the domestic event. Also in the mix is Farveez Maharoof, who will be eager to get back in the groove after a quiet season for the Delhi Daredevils (for whom he turned out in the IPL) and a mixed show in the Asia Cup.
How they made it: Winners of Standard Bank Pro20 2009/10
Captain: Davy Jacobs
Headliner: Mark Boucher
Success has been a long time coming for the Warriors. They became the last of South Africa's six franchises to win a trophy when they claimed the MTN40 in 2009-10. A few weeks later they won another, the Standard Bank Pro20. With exciting young talents like Colin Ingram, Rusty Theron and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, and the experience of Davy Jacobs, Arno Jacobs, Nicky Boje and Garnett Kruger to call on - plus the occasional jolt of international class delivered by Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini - you might wonder why their cabinet was bare for so long. Wonder no more.
How they made it: Winners of Caribbean T20 2010
Captain: Ramnaresh Sarwan
Headliner: Jonathan Foo
Guyana may have snuck into the Champions League having made fewer mistakes than their more fancied West Indian opponents, but while the rest of the Caribbean has been writing them off, Ramnaresh Sarwan's side has a lot going for them. They have a side packed with unknown names and anonymity could be their biggest strength. Jonathan Foo, the wiry middle-order batsman of Chinese descent, is widely tipped to reprise the heroics of Kieron Pollard from the 2009 edition, having looted 103 runs at a strike-rate of 210.20 in the Caribbean T20. Foo's aggression will be tempered well by the presence of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine, both of whom should like the pace of the South African wickets. Travis Dowlin shifted gears seamlessly in the Caribbean T20 and will play a crucial role at the top. While Foo stole the headlines, the silent heroes were the spinning trio of Lennox Cush, Devendra Bishoo and Royston Crandon who snared 26 wickets in 4 matches.
How they made it: Runners up at the Standard Bank Pro20 2009/10
Captain: Alviro Petersen
Headliner: Robert Frylinck
The Lions won the inaugural Standard Bank Pro20 in the 2006-07 season and have been in steady decline in all forms of the game since then. They surprised even themselves with their performance in last season's competition. Their road to the final was based on solid team efforts rather than stand-out individual performances. They have only one national player in their captain, Alviro Petersen, which allows for consistency in their line-up. The deceiving medium pace of Robert Frylinck, the speed of Ethan O' Reilly, the hard-hitting approach of Jean Symes and Vaughn van Jaarsveld and the all-round abilities of Richard Cameron and Shane Burger could help them roar on home soil.
How they made it: Runners up at IPL 2010
Captain: Sachin Tendulkar Headliner: Sachin Tendulkar
It was the team that realised very early that the local Indian players had to contribute a lot if they were to progress in the tournament. Sachin Tendulkar delegated responsibility to Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu and kept pushing them up the order. Both delivered. Tiwary made 419 runs at 29.92 and Rayudu contributed 356 runs at 27.38. Tendulkar, of course, was the top-scorer, compiling 618 runs at 47.53 and though Dwayne Bravo flopped with bat and ball, Kieron Pollard chipped in with some vital contributions. They were the first team to make it to the final four and with Lasith Malinga, back in roaring form, much will depend on how their batsmen fare in the South African conditions. Will their Indian players tackle the bouncy pitches?
How they made it Runners-up in the Big Bash 2009/10
Captain Michael Klinger
Headliner Shaun Tait
South Australia were the easy-beats of the Australian domestic season, finishing last in the four-day and one-day competitions, but they bought well and sprung a surprise by reaching the Twenty20 final. The only problem - and it's a big one - is that both imports, Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians) and Shahid Afridi, are unavailable in South Africa. That leaves them without some significant star power and their replacements are the new leadership team of Michael Klinger and Callum Ferguson. Both are excellent domestic batsmen who are best when taking their time. All this means it will be up to Shaun Tait, Peter George and Daniel Christian, the gifted allrounder, to shake up the opposition with the ball. Life for the Redbacks will again be hard when they run into the top teams.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
How they made it: No. 3 in IPL 2010
Captain: Anil Kumble
Headliner: Robin Uthappa
They were the powerhouse team at home in Bangalore. With Dale Steyn at the helm, they bounced and hustled the opposition. Robin Uthappa, who didn't have a great domestic season prior to the IPL, exploded during the event with his crowd-pleasing knocks. The supporting acts were performed by Anil Kumble (17 wickets at 23.94) and R Vinay Kumar (16 wickets at 24.75). Bangalore were quite a handful on the bouncier tracks at home and in theory, should be quite a good bowling attack on South African pitches. The four foreign players -Steyn, Jacques Kallis, Ross Taylor, and Cameron white - can be expected to lead from the front.