There has been some good cricket and some poor thus far in the 2011 Champions League Twenty20. The South Africans choked once again and Somerset find themselves in the final stages of yet another major tournament – can they finally go all the way?
From Group A it is New South Wales and Mumbai Indians that advance. Early tournament favourites, on the basis of having won the last two Indian Premier League titles and the 2010 CLT20, Chennai Super Kings finished bottom of the table.
Group B has given us Somerset and Royal Challengers Bangalore with IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders failing to advance. The semis commence on Friday in Bangalore.
New South Wales Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
This has all the ingredients to be a classic. In the red corner, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chris Gayle. In the blue corner, David Warner and Shane Watson. Whatever happens, it should be entertaining.
NSW made it though the group courtesy of some heavy hitting from Warner, who is the leading run scorer left at the party. His 135* against Chennai (which you can see below) the other evening helped his cause in that area no end. Watson is yet to fire here, but he’s another big game player who could easily ruin Bangalore’s fun in front their home supporters.
The atmosphere should lend itself to RCB. In Chris Gayle they also have the best t20 operator in world cricket right now. His 160 runs so far this tournament have come from just 91 deliveries. He doesn’t hang about and has been in ruthless form.
Virat Kohli and Dilshan have also backed up the big man. Their impressive win against South Australia, in which they chased down 215 to win, will no doubt have further raised the confidence levels within the camp. In Daniel Vettori they have a great captain and bowler in one man.
The rest of their bowling attack is a bit leaky (Sreenath Arivand went for 69 against South Australia) so they will have to rely on their heavy hitters outgunning NSW’s batsmen.
Prediction: I fancy this to be a high scoring, tense finale of a fixture. NSW are a solid unit who know their way around this tournament, having won the inaugural event in 2009. I’m backing them to reach their second final.
Somerset Vs Mumbai Indians
Somerset have been English cricket’s nearly men for the past couple of years. Mumbai have been much the same in the IPL. One will get a shot at losing another final and you’d have to back Mumbai to be the ones to advance. Whilst their batsmen have so far let them down (Lasith Malinga tops their averages) they still have an extra something that Somerset do not. That something could prove to be Kieron Pollard (see below).
The Trinidadian is an explosive customer who hasn’t quite fired at this tournament. If he picks Saturday as the day to do it, Somerset could be blown away. As they well know having had the benefit of Pollard’s services this English summer. That intimate knowledge may mean they know a trick or two to defeat to him and all eyes will certainly be on Pollard.
The Ace in Somerset’s pack is the canny South African Roelof van der Merwe. He has scored runs and taken wickets at this tournament so it will be important for Mumbai to keep him quiet. Behind him are Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler, along with an economical bowling unit, so this should be a close and tense encounter.
Prediction: Mumbai Indians to advance.
Agree with our selections? Please leave your thoughts below.
By Miles Reucroft