Hyderabad: Leicestershire Foxes take on Ruhunu Eleven in their must-win match of the Champions League qualifiers at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, on Wednesday.
This is the final match in Pool A, with the Caribbean team Trinidad and Tobago having already qualified for the main tournament after winning both their matches. Other than the topper of Pool B, the third-best team (based on points and/or net run rate) from either groups goes on to play the main tournament.
In their opening match, the Foxes succumbed to an embarrassing 51-run defeat against Trinidad and Tobago, which has seriously dented their chances of qualifying. So the English champions not only have to beat Ruhunu but also do it with a fair margin to resurrect their awful net run rate.
Ruhunu Eleven were defeated by T&T in their first match of the tournament (AP Photo)
Their bowling was all at sea against T&T. The batting too didn't have anything to write home about, largely due to contrasting conditions from what they are used to in England. Abdul Razzaq holds the key but needs to bat up the order to boost Leicester's chances of putting up an impressive total.
Ruhunu, on the other hand, should be able to negotiate the conditions, which are similar to what they get at home in Sri Lanka. With experienced international stars like Sanath Jayasuriya in the ranks, they surely start as the favourites. Should Jayasuriya fire, Dinesh Chandimal can hold the middle order together while chasing or setting a target.
Their bowling relies on their slow bowlers as they showed in the match against T&T, where they opened with Sanath Jayasuriya.
As things stand, Ruhunu seem to have their noses slightly in front with the presence of Jayasuriya, familiar playing conditions and better run-rate compared to Leicestershire.