Hyderabad: A tough task awaits the South Australia Redbacks in their opening game of the Champions League Twenty20, as they come up against the potent Warriors in a Group B encounter at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday.
The Warriors, runners-up in the 2010 edition of the tournament, got off to a winning start this year edging past the Royal Challengers Bangalore by two wickets in their first game. It was their strength in depth that helped them chase down an imposing total of 173, even as the bowling attack proved to be expensive.
Ashwell Prince led the batting with his 74 at the top, while skipper Johan Botha chipped in with a crucial 24-ball 42 at the end. However, there are plenty of other batsmen in the Warriors squad, like Colin Ingram and Mark Boucher, that can make life tough for the bowlers.
Warriors batsmen Johan Botha and Nicky Boje celebrate their victory over RCB during the Champions League Twenty20 League group B match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on September 23, 2011. (AFP)
Meanwhile, the bowlers will be looking to make amends, especially Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who was costly in the match against RCB. Experienced campaigners Nicky Boje and Botha will also have to chip in to support the fast bowlers.
The Redbacks, while devoid of the star power in comparison to their opponents, are more than capable of challenging the Warriors side. The Australian side will miss the services of top-order batsman Aiden Blizzard and West Indian big-hitter Kieron Pollard, who will be playing for Mumbai Indians instead. Yet this is the side that won the KFC Big Bash T20 championship in February earlier this year, and they have plenty of players to watch out for.
The openers – Daniel Harris and captain Michael Klinger – have often given their side a good start. In fact, Harris topped the batting charts in the Big Bash with 304 runs at 60.80 and hit 12 sixes in seven innings, second only to Chris Gayle. Meanwhile, Callum Ferguson, in the middle order, has plenty of international experience with Australia.
The bowling attack will be heavily dependent on speedster Shaun Tait, who will be supported by the medium pace of Daniel Christian. A lot will also be expected from Nathan Lyon, the 23-year-old promising offie, who impressed in his debut series against Sri Lanka recently. From being a groundsman at the Adelaide Oval to picking up a five-wicket haul in his first Test, Lyon will now get another chance to enhance his growing reputation in the more spin-friendly conditions in India.
The young Redbacks will want to gain early ground and get points on the board from the start. However, it won't be easy against the Warriors, who will be aiming to build on their strong start. A second straight win of the tournament will also put the South African side in a very strong position to qualify for the semi-finals.
South Australia Redbacks: Cameron Borgas, Daniel Christian, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Daniel Harris, Michael Klinger (c), Tim Ludeman, Nathan Lyon, Aaron O'Brien, Gary Putland, Adil Rashid, Kane Richardson, Chadd Sayers, James Smith, Shaun Tait.
Warriors: Johan Botha (c), Nicky Boje, Mark Boucher, Colin Ingram, Andrew Birch, Justin Kreusch, Lyall Meyer, Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell, Ashwell Prince, JJ Smuts, Kelly Smuts, Rusty Theron, Craig Thyssen, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
(With agency inputs)