Cape Town: It will be a battle of elites when Sydney Sixers take on Highveld Lions in a Group B match of the Champions League Twenty20 at Newlands here to maintain their supremacy at the points table. Both teams have been undefeated in the tournament so far, with Sixers beating Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in their first match and making light work of the Yorkshire in their second outing to lead the points table on better net run rate.
Lions, on the other hand, did not have to break a sweat against Mumbai Indians (MI) and looked at ease against the CSK last night, as they overcame a challenging 158-run target with six wickets to spare. Their only worry, if at all, seems to be the inconsistent bowling and an indifferent form of skipper Alviro Petersen with the bat upfront. Speedster Sohail Tanvir has been decent with the ball but his inability to provide early break throughs will definitely be a matter of concern for the Lions when they take on a strong Sixers side, which boasts of some big names like Shane Watson and Brad Haddin in their top-order.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not Watson takes the field tomorrow following Cricket Australia's diktat to release the formidable all-rounder for the preparation of the national team's upcoming gruelling series against South Africa. Pacer Dirk Nannes was impressive for the Lions against MI but the bowler was taken to cleaners against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side last night and Petersen would like him to come good against the Aussie outfit.
In left-armer Aaron Phangiso, Lions possess a quality spinner, who can see the side through the middle overs. But it will be a test for him to tackle the big hitting Aussie unit. Experienced Niel McKenzie has held the middle-order well and with Gulam Bodi at the top also getting into runs column against CSK, the South African side has all the ingredients of a good unit. Young Quinton de Kock is another bright prospect which the Sixers need to look out for. He was at ease against the likes of Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh and it would remain to be seen how he tackles the likes of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.
Sixers, on the other hand, have looked indomitable in the series so far and with Micheal Lumb striking form against Yorkshire last evening, the side possesses a strong batting line-up. Their main strength, however, remains the bowling which saw them restrict Yorkshire to a meagre 96. Both Starc and Cummins have been among the wickets and with all-rounder Moises Henriques and experienced Watson also coming good with the ball, the team has the arsenal to tame any side in the championship.
Hazlewood may not have been among the wickets but he has definitely lend stability to the bowling side with his accuracy and miserly bowling figures.
Sydney Sixers: Brad Haddin (captain/keeper), Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Michael Lumb, Nathan McCullum, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, Shane Watson.
Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen (captain), Temba Bavuma, Gulam Bodi, Zander de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Pumelela Matshikwe, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Ethan O'Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Dwaine Pretorius, Sohail Tanvir, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile (wicketkeeper).