Bangalore: The Champions League Twenty20 will get off to a booming start on Friday when the Royal Challengers Bangalore take on the Warriors, with 1st game of the group stage pitting together 2 sides that are authentic title contenders.
Both teams came close to winning the tournament preceding year with RCB reaching the semis whereas the Warriors ended up as the runners-up.
Incidentally, both sides also finished 2nd in their relevant domestic T20 leagues this season. So assurance will be high in both camps, though the South African side has the added advantage of having played together as a unit for a longer period.
Home lead will be with the Royal Challengers, but the absence of experienced pacer Zaheer Khan will hit them hard. Left-arm Australian fast bowler Dirk Nannes can be a replacement, but may miss out due to the restriction on the number of foreign players a team is allowed to field.
The key man for RCB will be Chris Gayle. The explosive West Indian opener’s exploits in IPL-4 almost independently led the Bangalore side to the final.
The Warriors’ batting line-up isn’t as strong, missing the services of Jacques Kallis and Davy Jacobs. But Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher are experienced campaigners. Nicky Boje and Johan Botha can also chip in with useful cameos.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Daniel Vettori (c), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli, Mohammad Kaif, Mayank Agarwal, Sreenath Aravind, Arun Karthik, Raju Bhatkal, Abhimanyu Mithun, Dirk Nannes, Asad Pathan, Jamaluddin Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary.
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.