Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Preview: Final – Highveld Lions v Sydney Sixers
Local favorites take on tournament giants for the big prize
This is the match that matters – the Final of the Karbonn CLT20 2012. The Highveld Lions will clash with the Sydney Sixers in a game that will determine the new CLT20 champions.
The Lions must be on a high after their resounding victory over the Delhi Daredevils in the first semi-final. Despite starting as underdogs and posting a modest total on the board, the Lions came up with a spectacular performance to defend 139. They bowled with fire, converted all the half-chances that came their way and demolished the formidable Daredevils batting line-up to win by 22 runs.
The Sydney Sixers – yet to lose a match in the competition – will be hoping to cap off their stupendous run with a win when it matters most. The Sixers have been the most impressive team and it is not surprising that they are functioning like a well-oiled machine; that no Sixers batsman finds a place in the list of the top five run-getters in the competition explains that the batting unit is collectively doing its job. The fact that the Sixers were able to defend 136 – the lowest total successfully defended in the tournament – and that two of their bowlers are among the top five wicket-takers in the competition explains that the bowling attack too is doing its job.
Sunday, October 28, 2012, 5:30 p.m. (9:00 p.m. IST)
New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
The top two run-getters in the competition are from the Lions line-up. Their opening batsman Gulam Bodi and Neil McKenzie occupy the first and second places respectively in the list of leading run-getters in the competition. Barring one innings, the left-handed Bodi has scored runs in every other outing. And it hasn’t been all hammer and tongs for the 33-year-old; the opener has shown the inclination to play the conservative game and then open up at opportune times.
McKenzie has scored only one half-century in the competition; but the Lions will welcome the fact that he has been contributing runs consistently. They will be hoping he can score a big one in this all-important final.
The left-arm trio of Dirk Nannes, Sohail Tanvir and Aaron Phangiso are the key characters in the Lions’ bowling plans. The pace duo of Nannes and Tanvir will be expected to keep things quiet when the fielding restrictions are in place, while Phangiso – who has been extremely impressive in conditions that aren’t quite suitable to spinners – will be expected to pick up wickets and keep things quiet in the middle overs.
Michael Lumb might not be in the ‘Chris Gayle’ or ‘Shane Watson’ mould, but he is certainly very effective with the willow in hand. The Sixers’ top run-getter, Lumb has been consistent right through the tournament – scoring runs at the top of the order in every outing. He will be a significant character in the Sixers’ batting plans, as will skipper Brad Haddin, who was in good form earlier in the tournament, but was dismissed for single-digit scores in his last two outings. Steve O’Keefe coming good with the bat at the top of the order in the previous match must have put to rest any doubts about who will partner Lumb in the absence of Shane Watson, while Moises Henriques and Steve Smith will be expected to close out the innings with a flourish – should they get an opportunity to bat.
The Sixers bowling attack, especially the pace element of it, ranks as the most impressive in the tournament. Though the attack was taken apart in the semi-final, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Moises Henriques have been relentless in troubling opposition batsmen. Expect more of the same in the Final too.
The Highveld Lions have a score to settle after they lost to the Sydney Sixers earlier in the Group stage. When these two teams met for the first time – earlier in this tournament – the Sixers registered a convincing five-wicket win over the Lions; they put the Lions in to bat and restricted them to 137 for nine, before knocking off the required runs with one over to spare.
The Highveld Lions have a 100 percent record in run-chases in the tournament; they’ve won each of the three matches when they’ve had to chase.
Two of the three previous CLT20 Finals have been won by teams batting first.
The Sydney Sixers’ captain Brad Haddin is predominantly a bat-first captain; he has opted to bat first in six of the seven matches in which he has won the toss.
This is where it all ends – until next season that is! Whichever team emerges triumphant in this match will take home the Karbonn Champions League T20 2012 trophy and a cheque of USD 2,500,000, while the losers will have to be content with USD 1,300,000.