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Otago capable of pulling off upsets, says coach

Otago Volts coach Mike Hesson has said his team is fully capable of pulling off a surprise win or two in the Champions League in India next month. The sole participating team from New Zealand is drawn in a tough group with Cape Cobras and IPL runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore.

"I see the Cape Cobras have been confirmed the favourites and Bangalore are third at the moment, so we have a couple of big games in our pool," Hesson told the Otago Daily Times. "Hopefully, we do show that we have a lot more to offer than some think."

Led by Craig Cumming, Otago have seven international players, including Brendon McCullum, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Ian Butler and the captain himself. One win in the group stages is enough to qualify for the second stage, which features the top two teams from all four groups.

"If we can do everyone a favour by knocking one of those teams out," Cumming said, "then when we go through to the next round it will only get easier for us."

Greg Todd, the left-handed batsman, has said the tag of underdogs could actually work in their favour.

"Everyone is pretty excited and we are expecting big things over there," Todd said. "We're not just going there to compete; we are going there to win. I think there is a feeling in the team that we can definitely knock over a couple of big sides.

"There is some good opposition but we've got guys who have played for New Zealand, so we're not the weakest side there. We've got a bit to prove and are probably the underdog from everyone else's point of view. But we've got other ideas."

Otago begin their campaign against the Cobras on October 10 in Hyderabad before taking on Royal Challengers two days later in Bangalore. The team departed for Brisbane to play a couple of warm-up games before heading to India on October 2 to play two more practice games, against Deccan Chargers and Somerset.