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Guide to the T20 Champions League

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Friday, October 12, 2012 - 3:00 PM
Source: SportsFan
Author: Dominic Brock

The Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers are chasing a $2.5 million prize in the 2012 Champions League Twenty20, starting this weekend and running through to the end of October.

Here's our quick guide to the big-hitting, big money tournament.

Who's playing?

Ten of the best domestic Twenty20 teams from around the world, including two from Australia, four from India, two from South Africa. The final two teams come from a qualifying group featuring the top two teams from England and the domestic champions of New Zealand, the West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

What's up for grabs?

The winner gets US$2.5 million, the runner-up US$1.3 million, with the two beaten semi-finalists earning US$500,000 and the other teams to reach the group stages getting US$200,000.

Who's won it before?

The NSW Blues won the inaugural title in 2009, while Indian Premier League juggernauts the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians took out the 2010 and 2011 prizes.

The teams

GROUP A

Perth Scorchers
How they got there:
Big Bash League runners-up
Star players:
Brad Hogg, Simon Katich, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus North, Michael Beer, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa), Paul Collingwood (England)

The Big Bash surprise packets revived Brad Hogg's international career, and showed that South African star Herschelle Gibbs and dumped one-time Test batsman Marcus North have still got it. Like the Sixers and the local teams the Scorchers should enjoy the South African conditions more than the Indians, but they don't appear to have the star power of the best squads in this tournament.

Kolkata Knight Riders
How they got there:
IPL winners
Star players:
Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Brett Lee (Australia), Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Sunil Narine (West Indies)

The big-hitting of McCullum and Gambhir and the crafty spin of World Twenty20 revelation Narine will be key factors for the Knight Riders' chances. Then there's the ageless Jacques Kallis, who averages 72 from his 10 Champions League innings with the bat so far and continues to be a handful with the ball. Former Test speedster Brett Lee is still a handful with the new ball as well, particularly in Twenty20's short bursts.

Dehli Daredevils
How they got there:
IPL third place
Star players:
Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, David Warner (Australia), Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka), Kevin Pietersen (England), Ross Taylor (New Zealand), Morne Morkel (South Africa)

One of the strongest batting lineups in the competition, led by the one-two punch of Sehwag and Warner (the Champions League's highest run-scorer) at the top of the order. Mahela Jayawardene is another star and Kevin Pietersen can also bat a bit – and will love being away from the English spotlight – while fellow South Africa native Morne Morkel is a real threat with the ball. A big chance.

Nashua Titans
How they got there:
South African MiWay T20 winners
Star players:
AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Paul Harris

With Proteas stars Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel and Faf du Plessis opting to play for their IPL teams, the Titans are short on big names but they do have form and home-ground advantage on their side. One-time Test spinner Paul Harris will play a big role in keeping the oppositions' run-rate down, but the batting of de Villiers and Rudolph is their real weapon.

Auckland Aces
How they got there:
The New Zealand Twenty20 champions advanced to the main tournament through the qualifying stage after beating England's Hampshire and Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions.
Star players:
Kyle Mills, Chris Martin, Martin Guptill, Azhar Mahmood (Pakistan)

They're in winning form, with all-rounder Mahmood taking 5-24 with the ball and clubbing 55 off 31 balls with the bat in their final qualifying match, but on paper the New Zealanders look to be a class behind the other squads.

GROUP B

Sydney Sixers
How they got there: Big Bash League winners
Star players:
Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, Stephen O'Keefe, Moises Henriques, Peter Nevill, Josh Hazlewood, Michael Lumb (England)

The inaugural Big Bash champs have got a well balanced team, with a long batting lineup, three very handy all-rounders and decent pace and spin options, but will still largely be relying on the in-form Shane Watson to fire at the top of the order.

Chennai Super Kings
How they got there:
IPL runners-up
Star players:
MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravi Ashwin, Doug Bollinger (Australia), Ben Hilfenhaus (Australia), Michael Hussey (Australia), Albie Morkel (South Africa)

Even without the injured Dwayne Bravo the wonderfully named Super Kings still have a wealth of talent, including a quality Aussie trio and big-hitting all-rounder Morkel who will be playing on home turf. Hilfenhaus and Bollinger could dominate on South Africa's pace-friendly pitches, with Bollinger in particular boasting a great Twenty20 record. Coach Stephen Fleming was always a sharp tactician as New Zealand captain and gives Chennai yet another edge.

Mumbai Indians
How they got there:
Defending Champions League winners (IPL fourth place)
Star players:
Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Richard Levi (South Africa)

A very well-balanced team. Kieran Pollard and Richard Levi are middle-order swashbucklers of the highest order, while the whippy Lasith Malinga is a Twenty20 specialist and Mitch Johnson thrives in South African conditions. Spinner and skipper Harbhajan Singh is back in form after reclaiming a spot in the national team. And they also have the best batsman since Bradman opening the batting.

Highveld Lions
How they got there:
South African MiWay T20 runners-up
Star players:
Neil McKenzie, Alviro Petersen, Dirk Nannes (Australia)

Veteren batsmen McKenzie and Petersen and 36-year-old Aussie pacemen Nannes provide the experience, while Pakistan left-armer Sohail Tanvir has a strong wicket-taking record in Twenty20s. They'll be underdogs, but neither of the local teams can be written off.

Yorkshire Carnegie
How they got there:
Runners up in England's Friends Life t20 competition, and advanced through the qualifying stage after beating Sri Lanka's Uva Next and Trinidad & Tobago.
Star players:
Ryan Sidebottom, Jonny Bairstow, Phil Jaques (Australia)

Aussie batsman Jaques will love to get the edge over his old NSW teammates at the Sixers, while the English entrants to the tournament are also coached by a familiar face for Australian fans: ex-Test fast bowler Jason Gillespie. But despite having a few occasional England internationals in this lineup, Yorkshire look like tournament dark horses at best.

Where to follow it

All the fixtures and results are here and all the live scores will be here (along with plenty of other cricket scores from around the world). The first game begins 10.30pm Saturday.


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