CAP vs NOR -Match 3, Group B
Location: International Cricket Stadium, Raipur
Word is that Sybrand Engelbrecht will be replacing JP Duminy in the Cobras squad. Duminy was ruled out due to a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Cobras are plagued with a host of injuries. Dale Steyn, JP Duminy and Beuran Hendricks are no longer a part of their squad. Having said that, they still do have quality international players in the form of Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander, Robin Peterson, making them a well-balanced side. The Cobras have prior experience in the World T20 League, having reached the semis in 2009 and then bowing out of the group stage in 2011. They, however, would like to change all that this time. Hello and welcome to the third game of the tournament being played at Raipur. We will bring you the toss and team updates in a short while. Stay tuned...
Northern Knights, easily the best team in the qualifiers, will face the South African team Cape Cobras in their opening Group B encounter. Northern Knights are no doubt a stronger team and with the fantastic performance they put up in the qualifiers, it will be difficult not to root for them. Their batsmen are in form, Boult and Southee have led the bowling department brilliantly and their fielding is one of the best that you will see in this tournament.
On the back of some fabulous cricket in the qualifying stage of the Champions League T20 2014, Northern Knights, the side from New Zealand who thoroughly outclassed Mumbai in the qualifiers, will face off against one of the favourites to lift the title, South Africas Cape Cobras, in their opening Group B tie of the Champions League T20 in Raipur on Friday.
Blowing hot and cold has been Cape Cobras' story so far in the CLT20. Their best finish was a semi-final appearance in the 2009 edition, in which they were beaten by Trinidad. They also qualified for the 2011 edition, but bowed out after the group phase, managing only a solitary win. The Cobras will be eager to make amends this year and they do have the squad to go all the way.
How they qualified: With eight wins from 10 games in the group phase of the Ram Slam Challenge, Cape Cobras qualified for the final of the Ram Slam, in which they lost to eventual champions, Dolphins. Both the finalists qualified for the CLT20.
Strengths: The Cobras have a quality line-up with quite a few international stars in the squad. The team led by Justin Ontong, has the ever-reliable Hashim Amla in the batting order, along with Richard Levi and Justin Kemp. In Rory Kleinveldt and Robin Peterson, they have quality all-rounders while Vernon Philander and Charl Langeveldt will be the go-to men in the pace department. As far as spinners are concerned, the talented Dane Piedt will have Peterson for company. The Cobras have a well-balanced squad with proven performers, which is their biggest strength.
Weaknesses: Beuran Hendricks, who was the highest wicket-taker in the Ram Slam tournament, is missing in action due to a back injury. This has weakened the pace attack, putting more burden on Philander. Just before their CLT20 2014 campaign, Cobras suffered a big setback as JP Duminy was ruled out due to a knee injury. In the absence of Duminy, the batting line-up will rely mostly on Amla and Levi, and should they fail, the brittle middle-order might find the going hard.
Key players: Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander
The New Zealand team, which is also playing for the first time in the CLT20, had to take a tougher route in order to make it to the main round. They were up against tough sides such as Mumbai, Lahore Lions and Southern Express in the qualifiers. However, it was a walk in the park for them in the end as the Knights overcame these three sides with ease to enter the group phase unbeaten.
Strengths: Kane Williamson, Daniel Flynn and BJ Watling, with half-centuries against their names, have spent some quality time at the middle ahead of the main stage. With Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowling fiery spells and the likes of Scott Styris and Ish Sodhi to provide good support with the ball, Northern Knights are already looking like the team to beat.
Weaknesses: While the top order has some quality batsmen, the middle order lacks an aggressive finisher like Corey Anderson. Also, the team is over-reliant on Boult and Southee in the seam department, and in case they have an off-day, it might prove to be costly for the team from New Zealand.
Key Players: Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Northern Knights (From): Anton Devcich, Kane Williamson, Daniel Flynn(c), BJ Watling(w), Daryl Mitchell, Daniel Harris, Scott Styris, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner, Brad Wilson, G Aldridge, Jono Boult
Cape Cobras (From): Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas(w), Justin Ontong(c), Justin Kemp, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Charl Langeveldt, Rory Kleinveldt, Dane Piedt, Zakhele Qwabe, Omphile Ramela, Aviwe Mgijima