Clash of titans as CLT20 enters main stage
There are four Indian Premier League teams in the fray in the cash-rich tournament, including defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) and this season's IPL winners Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
The other two IPL sides are Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Delhi Daredvils (DD). But the interesting to watch in the tournament will be the desperation of the Indian cricketers, who will be eager to erase the scars of their Super Eight elimination in the Twenty20 World Cup.
While KKR and DD have been placed in Group A, the other two IPL teams -- MI and Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK -- are in group B, raising the hopes of an all India clash in the semis, as the top two teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stage.
However, in no sense it would be an easy task for the Indian outfits as they will be up against some of the best T20 outfits of the world. And with Titans and Highveld Lions, both from South Africa, enjoying home advantage, the task for the Indian units will be even more cut out. Apart from the two African teams the championship also hosts Australia's Perth Scorchers, which boasts of players like Shaun Marsh and Herschelle Gibbs in their ranks.
The other Aussie side in fray is Sydney Sixers and with the presence of Shane Watson along with young pace sensation Mitchell Starc and skipper Brad Haddin in their line-up, they the Sixers definitely look a side to be watched out for. The tournament will also witness Auckland Aces and Yorkshire, both of whom made it to the main draw after topping their respective pools in the just concluded qualifiers.
The Indian challenge in the tournament will start with a battle between two IPL biggies -- KKR and Daredevils. While the Gautam Gambhir-led KKR would be out there to prove that their victory in the IPL V was no fluke, Daredevils under new skipper, Mahela Jayawardene, would like to stamp their authority on the tournament in which they have so far remained the underachievers.
The Daredevils boasts of some big names like David Warner and Kevin Pietersen in their ranks, and with Virender Sehwag being declared fit for the tournament, the Delhi side definitely has what it takes to be the champions.
The tournament will also be an opportunity for Sri Lanka's Jayawardene to redeem himself after his side lost in the final of the World T20 Championship to the West Indies earlier this month. The 35-year-old was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the side after Sehwag opted out of the job to concentrate on his batting.
Jayawardene, however, stepped down as the captain of Sri Lanka's T20 side after losing to the West Indies and it remainsto be seen how he handles the new responsibility.
KKR, on the other side, possesses a healthy mix of Indian and foreign players. Jacques Kallis and Brendon McCullum have been phenomenal for KKR and the team has really done well under Gambhir.
The other Indian franchisees to look out for in the championship are Dhoni-led CSK and Harbhajan Sigh-led MI. Both the teams have tasted success in this championship earlier, with CSK winning the 2010 edition and MI lifting the trophy a year later.
Teams: Group A: Auckland Aces, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Perth Scorchers, Titans
Group B: Chennai Super Kings, Highveld Lions, Mumbai Indians, Sydney Sixers, Yorkshire
Tomorrow's matches: Titans v Perth Scorchers (IST 17:00hrs) KKR v Delhi Daredevils (IST 21:00hrs).