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CLT20 Staff in Johannesburg

We are better prepared now: Alviro

Lions skipper believes his team is ready to take on the Mumbai Indians

When the Highveld Lions made their CLT20 debut in the first game of the 2010 season, against the Mumbai Indians, no one gave them a chance. But with batting fireworks from Jonathan Vandiar and Neil McKenzie, they created the first upset of the tournament.

This year, the Lions once again start their campaign against the very same opposition. And while captain Alviro Petersen hopes to repeat history, he knows MI will come hard at them, having learnt their lessons.

“In 2010 they didn’t know what to expect. They were favourites and we did things well; a couple of guys created good plays for us. This time they’ll be aware of who we are and how we play in our own conditions. They’d want to prove a point; they don’t want to lose twice to the same opposition. From our side, that sort of start will be fresh in our minds, as to how we went about things, our game plans and we’re trying to do something similar.”

According to Petersen there’s more that his team has gained out of their experience of playing in the tournament before in similar conditions.

“The 2010 edition of CLT20 was played here as well. Then, especially the guys who had never played international cricket, didn’t understand the nitty-gritty of the tournament. This time around we’re more aware of what we need to do and how we need to go about things,” Petersen said.

While home conditions will have a part to play, Petersen feels tournaments like IPL and CLT20 have negated the surprise factor that players from other parts of the world had to deal with when they came to South Africa.

“Cricket has evolved so much in the last few years. You have South African players playing for IPL franchises and they will surely pass on the information to the teams on how the wickets will play on a daily basis.

“We have a slight advantage in that we play here a lot. But the players from other parts of the world, while may not be accustomed to the conditions, will know exactly what to expect and prepare accordingly. In the past when you had teams coming here, subcontinent teams for instance, they prepared differently. Whereas this time they might do things a little differently with the information they’ve got from our local players,” the skipper said.

Petersen also touched upon how the Twenty20 format has now become more structured from the hit and giggle format that it was once considered. He emphasised on the importance of playing good quality cricket in order to succeed in this format.

“T20 cricket is not a slog at all,” said Petersen. “You need to have skill along with the power. We’ve seen over the years that batsmen with good techniques generally come on top in T20 cricket over a long period of time,” he observed.

Speaking about South African conditions, Petersen also felt the presence of two experienced T20 pacers in Dirk Nannes and Sohail Tanvir will hold the team in good stead.

“Dirk and Sohail are massive for our side. Due to their presence, our bowling unit has come up by leaps and bounds as compared to last year. Having experienced guys like them helps bringing other bowlers through as well. Chris Morris came through really nicely and these two had a lot to do with that. It’s not just about their bowling but what they bring in as a collective package. They have been brilliant for us in that regards,” Petersen said.

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