In the lead-up to the 2012 Champions League Twenty20, we take a look at seven of the 14 teams in content_cnion for the tournament. Today: Auckland Aces, Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Hampshire, Kolkata Knight Rider, Highveld Lions and Mumbai Indians.
Qualification: Winners, HRV Cup
Captain: Gareth Hopkins
Star value: Martin Guptill, Lou Vincent, Andre Adams, Azhar Mahmood
The Auckland Aces made it to the CLT20 qualifying tournament after they won the HRV Cup beating Canterbury Wizards in the final by 44 runs in January. Led by former New Zealand wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins, the Aces lack international value with only a handful of players with experience at the top level. Much of their success will rest on the role of their top order, including current and former New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent, as well as the all-round efforts of Andre Adams who has enjoyed much success over the past few years in county cricket. This is Auckland’s second trip to the CLT20 after a win-less qualifiers last year.
Chennai Super Kings
Qualification: Runners-up, IPL 5
Captain: MS Dhoni
Star value: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel
This will be CSK's fourth appearance in the CLT20, having won the second edition in 2010. Arguably the strongest Twenty20 franchise in the world, CSK owe their success to a close-knit unit in which the owners have retained much faith. With Dhoni as leader and proven Twenty20 match-winners in the ranks, this is the team to beat. Having failed to win the title in IPL 5, Dhoni's team will be out to gain lost ground with another strong show in South Africa where they won the trophy two years ago.
Qualification: Fourth place in IPL 5
Captain: Mahela Jayawardene
Star value: Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen, Morne Morkel, Irfan Pathan, David Warner, Ross Taylor, Virender Sehwag.
A strong Twenty20 side boasting a tremendous batting line-up and quality bowlers, Delhi go into the CLT20 as one of the favourites – should Virender Sehwag be passed fit. They did well in IPL 5 before losing their way at the end, but with Kevin Pietersen, David Warner and Ross Taylor available for the entire tournament they will be a serious threat to opposition teams.
Qualification: Winner, Friends Life t20
Captain: Dimitri Mascarenhas
Star value: Shahid Afridi, Dimitri Mascarenhas
Hampshire, winners of the England’s domestic Twenty20 competition, will hope to progress from the CLT20 qualifiers into the proper tournament in their first appearance. Pooled with Auckland and Sialkot Stallions, this team has its task cut out. Lacking international experience, Hampshire will rely heavily on Dimitri Mascarenhas, opener Michael Carberry, former Zimbabwe allrounder Sean Ervine and Shahid Afridi. Also in their ranks is the spin-bowling allrounder Glenn Maxwell, part of Australia’s squad at the ICC World Twenty20.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Qualification: Winners, IPL 5
Captain: Gautam Gambhir
Star value: Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee, Sunil Narine, Brendon McCullum, Shakib Al Hasan
After winning their first IPL title this year, KKR will enter the CLT20 as one of the favourites. Their star-studded line-up speaks for itself, but key for the Gautam Gambhir-led team will be to adapt to the South African conditions. In 2009 IPL KKR had a woeful time, with then captain Brendon McCullum struggling with the bat and as leader. At home, and coming off a poor World Twenty20, key allrounder Jacques Kallis will be heavily relied upon.
Qualification: Runners up, T20 Domestic Cup
Star value: Neil McKenzie, Sohail Tanvir, Dirk Nannes
The Lions have been weakened by the absence of regular captain Alviro Petersen, who injured his left hand during a recent encounter with the Cape Cobra, and the decisions by Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel to play for their IPL sides. However, with CLT20 experience and knowledge of the home conditions they are not to be underestimated. The new coach Geoffrey Toyana has backed the team to deliver with a good mix of experienced players and exciting new prospects in Chris Morris, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock and Pumelela Matshikwe.
Qualification: Direct entry as title holders
Captain: Sachin Tendulkar
Star value: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Rohit Sharma, Dwayne Smith
The defending champions will be out to retain the trophy in tougher conditions than in India, and with a strong batting and bowling attack at its disposal. With Sachin Tendulkar fit the batting has been solidified and the master veteran will also resume the captaincy. Undoubtedly one of the toughest teams to beat, Mumbai Indians have the firepower to lift another CLT20.