Australia's domestic Twenty20 winners Victoria will take on English champions Middlesex in the opening match of the inaugural Champions League on December 3 in Mumbai. The tournament final will be played in Chennai on December 10, instead of Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium as previously reported.
The draw for the tournament, featuring the top Twenty20 sides from India, Australia, South Africa, England and Pakistan, was revealed in Delhi on Thursday. Besides Victoria and Middlesex, IPL runners-up Chennai Super Kings and South Africa's Titans are the two other teams in Group A.
Rajasthan Royals, the IPL champions, are in Group B, and will start their campaign at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium against South Africa's Dolphins. They will also pit their wits against Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions, who have won 16 games on the trot, and Western Australia.
The group games will be played in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai over four days, with Bangalore and Chennai hosting the semi-finals.
The best Twenty20 performers in leagues around the world were also handed awards during the ceremony to unveil the draw. Rajasthan's Sohail Tanvir had the best bowling figures [6 for 14 against the Chennai Super Kings], while the Kolkata Knight Riders' Brendon McCullum won the award for the highest score [158 against Bangalore Royal Challengers].
Dolphins' Yusuf Abdullah had the best economy rate for the season [4.32], while Graeme Napier of Essex took home the award for the best batting strike-rate. His 326 runs in the Twenty20 Cup in England came at an astonishing strike-rate 195.2.
Shaun Marsh topped batting averages both in Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash and the IPL [616 runs at 68.4]; Shane Watson of the Royals accepted the award on his behalf, with Marsh on his way to join the Australian Test squad, not due in India for another few hours.
Charl Langeveldt of the Cape Cobras had the best bowling strike-rate, his 18 wickets came at a rate of one every nine balls, but the bowlers taking part in December will be thrilled to do anything like as well with the wealth of batting talent on display.