Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Preview : Qualifier 1 - Otago Volts vs Faisalabad Wolves
Kiwi champs to take on debutant Wolves in first qualifier
The opening fixture of the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 Qualifiers features the Otago Volts and the Faisalabad Wolves. The Volts qualified to participate in the event by virtue of winning the HRV Cup 2012-13 – New Zealand’s domestic Twenty20 competition – in January this year. The Wolves, meanwhile, have travelled to India after winning the Faysal Bank Super Eight T20 Cup – Pakistan’s domestic T20 competition – in March this year.
This will be the Otago Volts’ second appearance in the CLT20, following their maiden appearance in 2009. However, the Faisalabad Wolves, the second team from Pakistan after Sialkot Stallions to compete in the CLT20, are making their maiden appearance in the tournament.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013, 4 pm IST
Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
More than half the runs scored by Otago Volts in their successful HRV Cup campaign came from the willows of Ryan ten Doeschate, Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford. ten Doeschate and Rutherford, with impressive batting strike-rates, have been in decent form in their stint with Essex in the English county circuit and they will be keen to hit the straps immediately. Broom – the Volts’ second-highest run-getter in the HRV Cup 2012-13 – will be expected to play the role of anchor, especially since he has the knowledge of these conditions, having been a part of the New Zealand A team that competed with the India A recently.
On the bowling front, the Volts will be hoping for the spin pair of Nathan McCullum and left-arm spinner Nick Beard to make best use of the spinner-friendly surfaces on offer. Not only did Beard pick up 15 wickets in the HRV Cup, he also finished with an outstanding economy rate of 5.96. McCullum will be expected to use his experience of playing international cricket and that of performing in a variety of conditions.
In the Faisalabad Wolves ranks, the men to look out for are Misbah-ul-Haq and Saeed Ajmal. Apart from being an outstanding captain, Misbah-ul-Haq has turned into a run-machine in recent times; in 54 innings across all formats in 2013, the 39-year-old has scored 19 half-centuries and one century (and eight other innings with scores between 30 and 49). Runs from his willow will be critical to the team’s success in the tournament. The Wolves will also expect quick runs from their right-hand opener Asif Ali.
Among the bowlers look no further than the magician Saeed Ajmal – the world’s top-ranked off-spinner in all the three formats. The 35-year-old is coming to India on the back of a successful tour of Zimbabwe and he will look forward to exploit the Kiwis’ well-documented weakness against quality spinners.
The Otago Volts have won their last 10 Twenty20 matches. Though they lost the opening match of the HRV Cup 2012-13 to Northern Districts on 2 November 2012, they bounced back strongly to win their next ten matches, including the final.
The Faisalabad Wolves’ only defeat in the Faysal Bank Super Eight T20 Cup 2012-13 was in a tied match against Rawalpindi Rams, which was decided by Super Over.
Both teams will be seen in action next on 18 September, 2013 – when they will be lined up against different opponents. Otago Volts will square off against Kandurata Maroons at 4 pm, while the Wolves will lock horns with Sunrisers Hyderabad at 8 pm that day.