New Delhi: England T20 team Somerset will bank on three players with IPL experience - Murali Kartik, Alfonso Thomas, Roelof van der Merwe, along with batsman James Hildreth to fire them into the main round of the 2011 Champions League T20.
Grouped in pool A of the qualifying tournament, Somerset will have to beat Auckland Aces and Kolkata Knight Riders if they are to make it to the main round. Here is why these five players will make all the difference:
Murali Kartik: A left-arm spinner who has mastered the art of bowling tightly even in T20s, Murali Kartik, who has played for Kolkata Knight Riders before turning out for the Pune Warriors in this edition of the IPL, will bring much-needed confidence to Somerset.
The 35-year-old has represented India in international cricket, and has been a regular in the English county circuit over the last few years having also appeared for Lancashire and Middlesex.
Alfonso Thomas: The 34-year-old South African cricketer used the Kolpak route to play county cricket in England and has been a regular in the Somerset side for the last couple of years. He has impressed with his performance in the limited overs format and is a very capable batsman lower down the order. He also turned out for the Pune Warriors earlier this year and his exposure in the IPL will surely come in handy for Somerset.
Roelof van der Merwe: 26-year-old Roelof van der Merwe is another impressive left-arm spinner in the side, who Somerset will bet on. He can keep things quiet while bowling, and has the ability to hit some lusty blows while batting.
He has a batting strike-rate of close to 100 in ODIs and a strike-rate of 134 in Twenty20 matches. In the recently-concluded Friends Life T20, he scored 169 runs in four innings and picked up four wickets at an economy of 7.75 runs per over.
James Hildreth Somerset's second-highest run-getter in the Friends Life t20 in 2011, Hildreth is a right-hand batsman who bats at the crucial No. 4 position and has been playing with the team for the last eight seasons. The 27-year-old is also an all-round sportsman, having played hockey, tennis, rugby, and even football. Somerset will hope his bat does all the talking in the CL T20.