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Know your CL T20 team (Part I)

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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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The English sides
(By Mark Smith)

Sussex

Sussex had an odd domestic season, to say the least.  Success in the one day game, combined with relegation to the second division in the CountyChampionship suggested that they signed some sort of Faustian pact back in May which meant success in one format being balanced off against abject failure in the other. Bearing in mind the 20/20 victory sees them jetting off to Asia in October, whilst relegation to Division 2 means they don’t have to go up to Chester le Street next spring, I’d see that as a good deal!

Player(s) to watch – Will Beer is a young leg-spinner who is being widely touted (mainly in Brighton, to be honest) as the next big thing. He looked very impressive on 20/20 finals day, where his nerveless bowling was a huge contributor to Sussex’s easy victory in the final. He’s also been spotted in deep conversation with some bleach blonde Australian who has some experience of the leg-spinners art…

Somerset

Somerset were handicapped this season by having to play all their home games on probably the best batting track in the country.  It put paid to Justin Langer’s hopes of leading them to a first ever County Championship in his last year at Taunton, but provided plenty of entertainment in the shorter versions of the game.

Player(s) to watch – Marcus Trescothick, simply to constantly be reminded of how much England misses him – in all forms of the game, but particularly one day cricket. If Tresco doesn’t make it, then Craig Kieswetter is worth keeping an eye on.

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The Indian sides                                                                                         
(by Sreeram Ramachandran)

Delhi Daredevils

International Parallel: South Africa

The Delhi Daredevils have been one of the strongest and most consistent sides in the IPL, but they have shown South Africa-ish strains i.e. dominating everything in sight before choking in the knockouts.

Though weakened by the embarrassment of being the corniest named side in the tournament,  the Delhi Daredevils’ great strength is in their overall balance and variety, not just at a macro level in batting and bowling but also in the types of batsmen and bowlers – aggressive openers, those who can stabilize the innings, right-arm, left-arm spinners, quick bowlers, slow-medium pacers, they have it all.

Player(s) to watch: Gautamsehwagdilshanvettorinannesmishra. He’s a dangerous one, this guy.

How far will they go: The semi-finals for sure. Maybe even the final. But no further.

Bangalore Royal Challengers

International Parallel: New Zealand

The side with the second-most embarrassing name in the tournament, saved only by the fact that it at least serves a purpose, that of promoting the owner’s alcohol brand.

The Royal Challengers have been a New-Zealand-ish team in that on paper they don’t really look threatening but have somehow managed to pull things off on most occasions, and against stronger opponents. They are an all-round functional unit, one that gets the job done, if without a great aura or flamboyance.

Player(s) to watch: The bulwark of the team’s victories has been the middle order combination of Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli. There have been numerous matches, particularly with RCB chasing, which have been going neither here nor there when this duo has come together and decisively seized the initiative. This partnership and where it breaks will be the place where most RCB games will be decided.

How far will they go: The second league round, at best.

Deccan Chargers

International Parallel: India

This is the Bad Boys XI, featuring known enfant terrible’s such as Andrew Symonds, Dwayne Smith, VVS Laxman, no, scratch that last one. A blow hot-blow cold outfit which is essentially very powerful and well-built, but possesses a surprising ability to just forget to turn up.

Players to watch: The entire team’s core engine, the driving force, consists of all of three players – Gilly, Symonds and Rohit Sharma. Gibbs will be missed.

How far will they go: Depends entirely on the early thrust. So, they’ll either go all the way, or not at all.

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The Australian Teams                                                                                                                     (by Jarrod Kimber)

New South Wales 

NSWales never really seemed to take 2020 seriously, but this year they got their act together and won the tournament.  They have picked a very strong team, but one that has not played together very often. Their bowling line up is essentially an Australian line up of Lee, Clark, Bracken and Hauritz. And they are captained by Simon Katich.

Go-to players: Bowler

Hard to go past Brett Lee. Still one of the world’s best white ball bowlers, and will relish the chance to represent his state in the big time.  If he brings his current form to India NSWales will be hard to handle.

Go-to players: Batsman

David Warner is the man with the bat. If he comes off can win a game on his own, but will have to come off regularly as batting is NSWales major weakness.

The Class

As a captain and a batsman Katich will have to be at the top of his game for NSWales to reach the pointy end of the tournament. He has the skill to do it, but if he fails more than he comes off you can’t see NSWales scaring the top sides.

The Unknowns you have to watch

Ben Rohrer is even a virtual unknown in Australian domestic cricketer, he has hardly played for NSWales, but he was the reason they beat Victoria in the final.  Hits the ball very hard, and will be used as the finisher for this team.  Steven Smith the young leg spinning all rounder is also a talent.

The player they will miss

Michael Clarke is a liability for Australia in 2020 cricket, but NSWales could use him in their top order, especially in India.

Can they win it?

The bowlers are good enough, but I just don’t know if the batsmen are up to it. But they beat Victoria with a weaker team than this, so they are not a bad team at all.

Moment to watch for

Brett Lee signing a record deal.

Victoria

Finally lost their first ever 2020 final to New South Wales, but the game did come down to the last ball and several of their key players were not available. Has a team of players who can clear the fence, but who can also bat on tricky wickets. That is their strength. This isn’t a team of sloggers, but a team where the top 8 can make a 50 at better than a run a ball, or save the day when the chips are down. They also have 8 or 9 bowlers available to them, 2 or 3 with real strike potential, which means that they have enough different options for varying surfaces.

Go to player: Bowler

Having lost the animal Dirty Dirk Nannes they will have to rely on the old warhorse Shane Harwood. Known for being fast and angry, Harwood had a reasonable tournament for Rajasthan. He bowls bouncers, yorkers and little else.

Go to player: Batsman

David Hussey, a man who was made for this format, his form has been patch of late, but seems to play a lot better when in the navy blue of Victoria. He is probably as explosive as any batsman in the world on his day, and he was the star in Victoria’s team.

The Class

Brad Hodge, is just a Test class batsman, and loves playing against the white ball, once he gets going with a Hussey or a White, the run rate always gets to double figures.

The Unknowns you have to watch

Aidan Blizzard, this boy hit the biggest six anyone has ever seen at the WACA a couple of years back, and it surprises many that the IPL hasn’t come calling yet. Victoria are backing him for a very big tournament. Also watch for Victoria’s big hitting all-rounder John Wayne Hastings.

The player they will miss

Dirty Dirk Nannes. You can’t replace the world’s quickest bowler. Victoria has a lot of fast bowling depth, but Dirk is something special, and Delhi have proved this by paying 200,000 dollars for him.

Can they win it?

Yes, they are still a classy well-balanced side, and now have Bryce McGain fit. They deserve to be one of the favourites, but it will depend on how they cope with the Indian wickets.

Moment to watch for

When Victoria play Victoria lite (Delhi). Delhi have Victoria’s assistant coach and their star fast bowler, both teams will have points to prove.

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