New Delhi: The Central Districts will be New Zealand's flag bearers for the 2010 Champions League Twenty20 tournament in South Africa. They will want the Kiwi presence to be felt at this year's edition, something that their predecessors Otago were unable to do last year.
The team from the land of the long white cloud will be without the services of Ross Taylor who played a crucial role in their qualifying for this tournament. Taylor smashed 80 as the Stags got the better of Auckland in the final of the HRV Cup - New Zealand's domestic T20 competition. Taylor's loyalties lie with the Royal Challengers Bangalore who qualified for the tournament by finishing third in IPL 3.
Like their national team the Central Districts will be looking for a collective team effort to compete with more fancied sides like the Chennai Super Kings from India (winners of IPL 3 ), Victoria Bushrangers from Australia and the Warriors from South Africa.
The absence of big names will be a bit of a hinderance for the Central Districts. Apart from Jacob Oram who will miss the competition because of injury, no other player really fits the bill as far as international Twenty20 is concerned.
If one has a look at the current list of New Zealand players, Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum and Scott Styris can make an impact with their big hitting abilities but unfortunatley the Stags don't have too many batsmen who can take the attack to the opposition.
They don't have any great pace to boast of, nor do they have any world class spinners, so it would be fair to say that the other teams in the competition won't be losing any sleep over the Stags bowling attack. Ironically, New Zealand's quickest bowler Shane Bond, who retired recently from international cricket is part of their support staff. The Stags would probably give an arm and a leg to have him bowl in South African conditions.
The IPL experience can also not be undermined since it involves a fair number of matches, not to mention the stars from all over the planet. Once again the Stags will be found wanting in that regard.
Where the Central Stags can score over the teams from the sub-continent will be the playing conditions. Last year the event was held all over India, but on this occasion it might not be all that easy for the batsmen to swing from the hip. The bowlers might have their say, just like IPL 2 when the tournament was shifted from India to South Africa.