Evenly matched RCB and Warriors to clash in CLT20 Opener
RCB vs Warriors, 8 PM, 23rd September, M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
The 2011 Champions League T20 will kick off in Bangalore tonight with the local boys Royal Challengers playing the Warriors from South Africa. RCB will become the first team to have played in all three editions of the CLT20 when they step onto the field tonight.
Daniel Vettori will miss his spearhead Zaheer Khan but the return of Dirk Nannes doesn't entirely solve his problem. Nannes brings hostility and cunning to the pace attack but he also takes up one of the overseas players slots. With Vettori and Gayle being necessary members on the team, it's a toss between Tillkaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers for the one remaining overseas player slot. Bangalore sure could use the lifeline that Mumbai has received to field up to 5 overseas players in their team.
Another absence that may affect them is that of Cheteshwar Pujara but Saurabh Tiwary's recent form will be an assurance after his lesser than expected returns in the IPL this year. Virat Kohli's ton in the final ODI against England at the end of a poor series will be a relief to Vettori and to many RCB fans.
It may not be a big problem considering they've managed to retain the services of Gayle who originally came in as a replacement for Nannes, but RCB will want to pack in as much firepower as possible for their opponents are no mugs.
The Chevrolet Warriors featured in the 2010 edition of the CLT20 as well, surprising everyone with their cricket to make it to the final where they finished second best to CSK. One crucial element of their successful campaign from before is however missing this year - their skipper and dynamite opener Davy Jacobs who will be playing for MI instead.
They do retain their lethal mix of bowlers, canny spinners in Johan Botha and Nicky Boje, deceptively dangerous medium pacers like Justin Kreusch and Rusty Theron and express pacers like Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell.
Their batting isn't too shabby with players such as Mark Boucher, Ashwell Prince, Colin Ingram and the big hitting Craig Thyssen in the mix. Kreusch, Botha and Boje can chip in as allrounders too if required, so that adds to the threat that the Warriors batting can pose to RCB's bowlers.
The pitch will hold a little bounce for the bowlers if it plays to its character. Batsmen from both sides would love to have the first go on this pitch and set up a massive total to get points in the bag.
The Chinnaswamy stadium has already seen some of the most exciting matches of the World Cup and IPL earlier this year, and with the two teams playing tonight so evenly matched, we may be in for yet another one tonight.