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Know your CL T20 team (Part II)

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(Part I of this article covers the Australian, English and Indian teams. To read that, click here)

Approaching the Champions League T20 is like watching Russian models in a swimwear fashion show. You can barely tell one participant apart from the other but you know there’s much that you can see and enjoy. And you want like hell to get to know them better.

So we got our writers who have seen the teams in close action in domestic tournaments to tell us more about them. We leave them to introduce us to the models. No. The cricket teams.


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Otago Volts
(by Graeme Beasely)

Otago is the smallest province in world cricket from a population point of view outside of small islands the West Indies. That’s right, it’s even smaller than Tasmania.
 
But for the last few years they have assembled the closest NZ can have to approaching a Glamour Side.  Built around the McCullum brothers, a bunch of Canterbury rejects and some canny recruiting from overseas they owned the domestic competition in NZ this season. Average score of 200 when batting first type owned.

Go-to players: Bowler

Neil Wagner. Not quite the South African household names turning up for the Challengers, but a very useful left-armer, especially with the new ball. McCullum Senior and Mascarenhas offer variety in the middle overs; it’s the death bowling that’s the issue. This is a big tournament for Ian Butler.

Go-to players: Batsman

Well there’s Prince Brendan, but it was actually
Aaron Redmond who was the main batsman who got them there.  Adding in Hamish Rutherford (there are plenty of family links in this side), Broom, Mascarenhas, the other McCullum means that the batting is the strength.

The Class

As with NZ, a lot will depend on the start Brendan McCullum is able to provide. His performances for the Volts over the years have been consistently impressive over the years; way better than when he plays in black. But this is international cricket now.

The Unknowns you have to watch


Aforementioned Wagner will play for NZ once the papers have been sorted. Look for Hamish Rutherford too. Just turned 20 and already earning more than his father ever did. 

The player they will miss

A second spinner and variety in the bowling. The will also miss playing on Dunedin pitches.

Can they win it?

Of course not. But a valiant Kiwi semi-final exit is a possibility.

Moment to watch for

Brendon McCullum’s catching if he gets to be captain. Redmond’s backlift.

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The South African sides
(by Don Kruger)

Cape Cobras are the star South African unit, even without Graeme Smith. They are a good unit but the batting is too dependent on Duminy and Gibbs. The absence of Smith makes a big difference. A general observation of patterns for years now suggests Gibbs will not do too well. Their real strength is their bowling. That's what'll determine how far they will go. The Eagles are weaker on paper but actually have much better balance. They may probably not go too far but they will do better than people expect them to.

Overall verdict

Neither team will win, but the Eagles may do better than the Cobras. Either way, at least both teams have enough practice under pressure situations to avoid the choking - both got into their domestic tournament final through a SuperOver!

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Trinidad & Tobago
(by Jonathan Cumberbatch)

 
Together, team T&T possess a tight and varied bowling attack (e.g. Badree, Rampaul, Mohammed and Emritt) coupled with mature batting (e.g. the Gangas, the Bravos, Guillen, Bharath) and a death-or-dishonor ethic regarding fielding. In short, a world-beating squad.
 
In these parts, victories are expected, not hoped for, and the lasting global question at the end of the tournament may well be why so many previously obscure Trinis have never been considered for West Indian colours in all this time.

(A more detailed write-up by Jonathan on T&T's prospects and the mood of the region is available here)

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Wayamba
(by D Amerasinghe)

The Wayamba side is a bit like the Sri Lanka of 1996 - young, almost unknown to the world, relatively speaking, kids in the big, arclights filled arena of glamour cricket, but with spunk and definite ability. It doesn't necessarily mean they will win, though.

Wayamba has some big names from the Sri Lankan national side such as Jayawardene and Mendis, but a lot of the team's abilities lie in lesser known players like Kulatunga and even Jehan Mubarak.

The Bulwark

Wayamba's biggest strength here is their twin spinning options - Herath and Mendis. Mendis has improved by vast stretches as an effective T20 bowler, although the exotic mysterious aura may have gone down, he has actually become more effective if less dramatic with time. T20s in general, and in the subcontinent, have been faithful to spinners, and these two form one of the core strengths of all Lankan teams going back to 1996 - the ability to choke the opposition with slow spin.


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Check out the COW - a new live tool that tells you the chance each team has of winning during the match. We are now live with the Champions League, right here
.

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