Preview- 2013 T20 Champions League

The fifth edition of the T20 Champions League is here, and will be played in India from 17th September to 6th October, 2013. 

First, there will be 6 qualifying games between four teams, to determine the two teams that go through to the main draw to join 8 other automatic qualifiers. The four teams in the qualifying stages are- Sunrisers Hyderabad (4th place IPL-IND), Otago Volts (Winners- NZ), Kandurata Maroons (Winners-SL), Faisalabad Wolves (Winners-PAK).
 
No English teams will be participating in the Champions League due to scheduling conflicts. This is the first time a Pakistani T20 team will participate in a T20 tournament played in India. Led by Misbah, the Wolves will play all 3 of their qualifying matches at Mohali.
 
The 8 international teams in the main draw are:
 
Mumbai Indians (Winners-IPL) 
The Mumbai Indians are making their fourth appearance in the Champions League T20 tournament. They are the 2011 Champions League winners, and will enter the competition first time as IPL Champions. Led by Rohit Sharma, the team will feature T&T superstar Pollard, as well as IPL-2013 bowling star Johnson. The team management will have to think of giving million dollar buy Maxwell more than a chance, due to his brilliant form in the A games in South Africa.
 
 
Chennai SuperKings (Runners up- IPL)
Led by the man who is back on top of the world, MS Dhoni, the Superkings will look to exact revenge after a disappointing final of IPL2013, where they should have arguably won their 3rd IPL title. But the fact that they played it was a major bonus, after the eruption of the spot fixing controversy late in the tournament. This will be CSK’s last year with the core of their constant team- Vijay, Raina, Dhoni, Badrinath, Ashwin, Jakati, Bravo, Albie Morkel and Jadeja, before the restructuring and re-auctioning in 2014.
 
Rajasthan Royals (3rd place- IPL)
This will be the Royals’ first appearance in the Champions League tournament, despite winning the inaugural IPL edition back in 2008 (with the first edition of CL being cancelled due to Mumbai terrorist attacks). Led by recent retiree Dravid, the team has finally overcome its middling ways- and have faced a traumatic end to the IPL season after 4 of their players were suspended for spot fixing, given various kind of life and cricket bans. They will miss the services of Ankit Chavan, but will look forward to including young spinner Harmeet Singh in their squad, and will begin as underdogs once again in yet another tournament.
 
 
Highveld Lions (Winners- SA)
Runners up of 2012 CL T20- The Lions will play in their third consecutive Champions League, featuring the likes of Tsotsobe, De Kock, Phangiso, Imran Tahir and out of favour Pakistani international Sohail Tanveer. They seem to have a stellar all-round team, and will look to avenge their disappointing crushing 10 wicket defeat in last year’s final to the Sydney Sixers on their home ground.
 
Titans (Runners up- SA)
This will be their second appearance in the T20 tournament. The second South African squad will feature the captain of their national team AB De Villiers, with RCB not qualifying for the tournament this year. The likes of Behardien, Rudolph, Morne Morkel (DD player), Van Der Merwe (DD player) and De Lange (KKR player) will bolster the strength of the squad, and they could pose a stiff challenge in Indian conditions to other foreign teams.
 
 
Trinidad & Tobago (Winners- WI)
Despite the Jamaica Tallawahs beating Guyana in the recent CPL final, it will be T&T- the Caribbean’s strongest T20 outfit- representing the islands in the Champions League once again on account of their winning domestic performance early in the year. However, they will miss their two key players- Dwayne Bravo, who will play for IPL outfit CSK and Pollard, who will play for IPL winners MI. It will be Ramdin, Narine, Darren Bravo, Barath, Badree, Simmons and Rampaul leading the charge, representing the World T20 Champions this year.
 
Perth Scorchers (Runner up- AUS)
The winners of the T20 2013 Big Bash Down Under will have the Marsh brothers, new teen star Agar, old warhorses Brad Hogg and Katich, Adam Voges and Michael Beer, and will be competing for the second time at this tournament. Last year, it was Sydney that stole the limelight winning the edition in South Africa, and the Scorchers will look to become the third Australian team to win this title. But they will begin as underdogs to Big Bash winners…
 
Brisbane Heat (Winners- AUS)
Surprise winners of the Big Bash will represent their country for the first time in the Champions League T20. A gamut of unknowns form the core of their team- Burns, Cutting, Lynn, Gannon, Gale, Kemp to join the known stars like Hauritz, Christian and Kemar Roach (WI). They are a traditional bits and pieces T20 outfit, parts of a whole that took the Big Bash by storm like the Royals did in the IPL back in 2008. They could very well prove to be a surprise in India.
 
The 10 teams will be divided into 2 groups:
 
Group A- Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Highveld Lions, Perth Scorchers and 1 of the 2 qualifying teams.
Group B- Chennai SuperKings, Titans, Brisbane Heat, T&T and 1 of the 2 qualifying teams.
 
Predictions-
The Sunrisers and the Wolves could qualify this year, adding some more Asian spice to the 2013 T20 CT.

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