Two days after one of the best T20 games in a long time involved the Royal Challengers Bangalore, they will take on the New South Wales Blues in the first semi-final of the Champions League T20 2011. And the one huge factor that could decide the game is the pitch at the M Chinnaswamy in Bangalore.
In no other sport does a pitch play this much part in deciding the starting line-up or even the result as it does in cricket. And more so in this tournament, where, of the three venues, Chennai and Hyderabad have played so slow and low that scoring has been a task in futility. They have been a run-drought.
Bangalore has been that exception and unfortunately for the bowlers, it has more than compensated for the other two venues when it comes to the run-scoring. 200 has been chased on the pitch, there have been three instances of a team getting to more than 200 while on the two occasions, targets of 170 have been easily achieved.
So when the likes of Dave Warner, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson and Tillakaratne Dilshan will face off against each other in today’s semi-finals, one can expect a run-fest.
This is where the visitors, New South Wales Blues may have a bit of an issue. So far, they have played on tracks that have been on the slower side and both, the batsmen and the bowlers have gradually done enough to adapt to them. Now, all of a sudden, their knock-out encounter will be on a pitch as different from the others as chalk is from cheese. How the batsmen adapt will be a big question, but more importantly, how the bowlers go about their bowling here will be a bigger query.
To be fair, the Blues have a better bowling attack than the Bangalore side. Dirk Nannes is on the wane, while Patrick Cummins is a youngster who can do both, crank up or down his pace. Stuart Clark’s experience is overwhelming as compared to that of Abhimanyu Mithun and Sreenath Mithun, both of whom could prove easy fodder for Warner and company.
Daniel Vettori is the leader of the pack, but the rest of the pack has often gone missing, as compared to Blues, who have some unsung heroes in Mitchell Starc and Steeve O’Keefe.
Where Bangalore compensate is in their batting. Despite the middle-order collapse on Wednesday, the likes of Saurabh Tiwary and Mayank Agarwal can all hit the long ball – a trait so necessary at Chinnaswamy. The Blues may struggle here.
Overall, it looks to be a tough game to call, but the sense I get is that the team batting second will have a bit of an advantage.