Ten of the best domestic T20 teams from around the world will showcase their prowess as the Champions League Twenty20 is all set to kick-off in Centurion on Saturday. Here's a guide to what all we can look forward to in the main draw of the multi-million dollar competition.
Prize money: The winner will get 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 reaching the group stages to get US $200,000.
Past champions: New South Wales Blues won the inaugural title in 2009, while Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians registered victories in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Players to watch out for: Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Brett Lee (Australia), Brendon McCullum (New Zealand), Sunil Narine (West Indies)
The Gambhir-led side made its way to South Africa after winning their maiden IPL title. The Knight Riders have all the ingredients required to win a major competition. With Gambhir and Jacques Kallis at the top, KKR is more or less assured of getting good starts. While McCullum can hit the ball hard and long, Shakib Al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate, along with Kallis, provide them the allrounders' option. Yusuf Pathan is capable of winning matches on a given day, while Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla are proven performers. Sunil Narine's mystery bowling gives them an edge over their opponents and Brett Lee still have the passion to do well in this format.
Players to watch out for: Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa), Paul Collingwood (England), Simon Katich, Brad Hogg, Shaun Marsh
They made it to this edition of CLT20 by finishing runners-up in the Big Bash League. While the presence of hard-hitting Gibbs could take them off to a flying start, Collingwood in the middle order provides them the stability. Shaun Marsh, after his success in the IPL over the years for Kings XI Punjab, could again be instrumental for the side. Brad Hogg, the Australian veteran, will also like to continue his merry return to cricket. Experienced Simon Katich and Marcus North - who leads the side - will form the core of the batting order. In Nathan Rimmington and Mitchell Marsh, the Scorchers have two good seam bowlers who can exploit the conditions well. Luke Rochi will don the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Players to watch out for: Virender Sehwag (captain), David Warner (Australia), Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka), Kevin Pietersen (England), Ross Taylor (New Zealand), Morne Morkel (South Africa), Irfan Pathan.
Daredevils finished third in the fifth edition of the IPL. Their line-up is full of power-hitters. Sehwag and Warner at the top, followed by mercurial Pietersen and classy Jayawardene. Morkel, with his towering frame, can be lethal on his home turf. Pathan and Agarkar provide useful batting options lower down the order. Unmukt Chand, after his success with India under-19, may be itching to shine at an international stage. Umesh Yadav will also get more assistance on the South African wickets.
Players to watch out for: Alfonso Thomas, Roelof van der Merwe, Marchant de Lange, Martin van Jaarsveld (captain).
They got the CLT20 qualification by winning the South African domestic league. Losing out on key players like Albie and Morne Morkel and Faf du Plessis - who have opted to play for the respective IPL franchises, the Titans may be short on big names but they can use the home conditions to their advantage. And though the injured AB de Villiers is a part of their squad, he may not be seen in action. While their batting will rest mostly on the shoulders of captain Jaarsveld and Farhaan Behardien, they do have firepower as far as their bowling is concerned. Thomas, with his medium pace, is experienced in this format, while De Lange poses a serious threat with his pace. With his slow left-arm orthodox, Van der Merwe should also play a part.
Players to watch out for: Azhar Mahmood (Pakistan), Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills, Andre Adams and Lou Vincent
The New Zealand T20 champions advanced to the main tournament after clearing the qualifying stage, beating England's Hampshire and Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions. As he shown in the qualifiers, Mahmood has been the key to their success. The allrounder took 5 for 24 and clubed 55 off 31 in their match against Hampshire. Mills, with his swing bowling, can be handy early in the innings.
Players to watch out for: Shane Watson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Brad Haddin (captain), Steve Smith, Moises Henriques
They are the winners of the inaugural Big Bash League. They will rely heavily on Shane Watson, who was the Player-of-the-Tournament in the just concluded World Twenty20, to give them good starts. Haddin can use this outings to get himself back in the Australia's national team. In Henriques and Smith, they have good allrounders. The pace duo of Cummins and Starc can definitely trouble the batsmen with their fiery pace bowling.
Chennai Super Kings
Players to watch out for: MS Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Michael Hussey (Australia), Albie Morkel (South Africa), Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Chennai finished runners-up in the IPL 5. Having already won the competition once before, Chennai come here as one of the favourites. Du Plessis will look to shine on his home turf, while Hussey will want to continue his World Twenty20 form. In Raina, CSK have an improviser capable of winning the game on his own, while Dhoni has been a proven match-winner. Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger could dominate on pace-friendly pitches. R Ashwin and Shadab Jakati provide the spin option to them.
Players to watch out for: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard (West Indies), Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), Ambati Rayudu
They are the reigning champions and got here after finishing fourth in the IPL. Mumbai boast of a well-balanced outfit, with Tendulkar and Rayudu at the top, followed by Rohit Sharma and swashbuckling Pollard in the middle order. Harbhajan and Malinga can use the long handle lower down the order while James Franklin is capable of batting at any position. Sri Lankan allrounder Thisara Perera can also be very useful in South African condition.
Players to watch out for: Neil McKenzie, Alviro Petersen (captain), Dirk Nannes (Australia), Sohail Tanvir
Lions finished runners-up in the South African domestic league. Experience of McKenzie and Zander de Bruyn will be crucial to Lions' success, while Petersen is also a proven candidate. Pacemen Nannes and Tanvir will also play a part. They will start the tournament as underdogs, but cannot be written off having the home advantage.
Players to watch out for: Ryan Sidebottom, Phil Jaques (Australia), Gary Ballance, Joe Root, Adil Rashid, David Miller
Yorkshire finished runners-up in England's T20 competition, and advanced through the qualifying stage after beating Sri Lanka's Uva Next and West Indies' Trinidad & Tobago. They don't have any big name but their bits-and-pieces players have been in excellent form. Both Rashid, the legspinner, and Ballance played match-winning knocks in the qualifying stages. Miller's hard-hitting will also be crucial for them. Jacques will like to use his experience to good effect here.