Amid much gloom over the passing away of former Indian captain MAK Pataudi, the Champions League T20 will get underway with its first game of the main draw between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Warriors. The match will be home game for the Bangalore side to be played at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Both sides were a part of the Champions League T20 last year and interestingly, both had been stopped short in their tracks by the eventual champions Chennai. Bangalore went out in the semi-finals while the Warriors were shot down in the final.
Bangalore have a strong side on paper, what with Chris Gayle at the top, Virat Kohli in the middle and one of AB de Villiers or Tillakaratne Dilshan in the order as well. The reason why both cannot play the game is that the rules stipulate the allowance of only four foreign players and with Daniel Vettori and Dirk Nannes to join Gayle, the Bangalore side would be looking for only one other international cricketer in their side.
The Warriors will have a young side going for them. Colin Ingram may be looking to open the innings with Ashwell Prince but it will be the batting of the Smuts brothers that many will be interested in following. The two have had a good time back and can do a bit of bowling as well.
The bowling is well-balanced for the Warriors as well. If the pitch looks like it could turn more than usual, they have Johan Botha and Nicky Boje to exploit it, but if there is pace like how it usually is at the M Chinnaswamy, then the likes of Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Juan Theron could come into the party as well.
Bangalore coach Ray Jennings had something very interesting to say about the pitch. He noted that the track had a lot of grass and moisture 24 hours before the game but it wouldn’t take time for it to vanish given the Indian conditions. That said, one can rest assure that if there was one pitch in the country that would have bounce and carry, it would be the one at Bangalore and so the Warriors could just feel at home.
Both the teams will be missing a key player apiece, with Warriors opener Davy Jacobs having to ply his trade for Mumbai Indians while the premier Indian pace bowler Zaheer Khan injured and not turning up for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.