Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who Will Win The Champions League T20 Semi Finals?

The ultimate game of chance in the Cricket arena has finally seen four contenders emerge for the Champions League T20 title. As the Semi Final meetings were set, the prospect of an all Indian Final will have the legions of Indians hoping for that to be the reality

Semi Final 1 – October 7

Somerset vs Mumbai Indians
Venue: Bengaluru

Semi Final 2 – October 8
NSW Blues vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Venue: Chennai

Somerset (England)

The English Team are probably the long shots for this title especially in the wake of Bangalore ripping them to ribbons in their Group B match. their main weakness is their bowling, that was belted all around Bangalore for a massive total of 206.

Though in this form of the game anything is possible, and Somerset have the weapons to prevail

Key For Somerset

The Batting Must Carry The Bowling

The flaying that the English got against Bangalore tends to indicate, that against the highest calibre Teams with explosive batting line ups they will struggle. So the key for them will be to rely on the fortune of the toss, and then bat first putting up a good total and then support their bowling through the pressure that runs on the board represents.

Ultimately in any T20 match, a teams total to a large part will rely on a combination of its start, propelled by the middle and then the effectiveness of the Teams finishers. Somerset have a class individual in its top 3 in Craig Kieswetter, who will be crucial in this contest. He has International calibre in regards to his traditional stroke player, and then can hit 6's with the best of them due to his easy natural power. His 151 boundaries and 61 from his 65 T20 innings is testimony to this.

The batting needs a bridge to its finishers, and this needs to come from players that are touted as potential England players in Jos Butler and James Hildreth. Both are supremely talented stroke players, and their performances in this Tournament so far haven't given due respect to their talents. Here in a cut throat elimination match, look for the cream to rise to the top, and duly both to be huge factors.

Setting the stage for Somerset's key finisher in Roelof van der Merwe. An all rounder that is country strong and can hit the ball many a long mile. His 73 off 40 balls against a Kolkata attack, that contained respected T20 bowlers like Brett Lee, Jacques Kallis, Shakib al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla showed the threat he poses

If he can replicate these exploits, Somerset might have a chance of a shock place in the Final.

The bowling will be commandeered by the spinners in Murali Karthik and van der Merwe. Though this is fraught with dangers against India opposition. So it will be crucial that a big hearted quicks in Steve Kirby and Alfonso Thomas to get initial break throughs. This to allow the spinners to bowl with the pressure on the batsmen. For if they cannot get the early wickets, the Somerset bowlers might experience some real tap

Mumbai Indians:

Mumbai have a Team that can win it. Mainly due to having arguably the best T20 bowler in International cricket in Lasith Malinga, and then a whole host of big bopper hitters, that would give opposition bowlers cold sweats

Keys For Mumbai

The Indians have a Team designed for T20 with having a very frugal and penetrative bowling attack and then an explosive host of hitters.

In any Mumbai match, the effect that Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard have on the contest will be profound. For in terms of impact in their respective disciplines in the game, few are as impactful as these players in the T20 arena.

Though a huge lift for the Indians will come from a contribution from the under performing players in their top three. Namely Aiden Blizzard and Ambati Rayudu. Firstly on Blizzard, he is a frighteningly pure hitter of a cricket ball, but in this Tournament so far has been very disappointing. His career strike rate of 144.98 from his 44 T20 innings show his supreme threat. Sadly for the Mumbai fans in this Tournament he has been a major disappointment with no scores of any consequence. Expect a lift from him in this game

In the case of Rayudu, he should with the immense talent he has be doing better in this Tournament. A player that has dominated previously in the IPL, the diminutive Indian is more of a traditional stroke player that are often overlooked for their value in this form of the game. Though if he can perform to his potential, he has the skill to not only have the score board tick over at a nice rate, but be the man that facilitates a platform of support. Allowing the hitters in this line up to thrive in.

If these two batsmen can perform to their potential in the rest of the Tournament, and with the support of the super stars in the line up. The Mumbai Indians will take a power of beating

My Prediction- Mumbai Win

I think on the back of the threat posed by Lasith Malinga with the ball and supported by the rest of the excellent Mumbai bowlers. The Indians will have enough might to neutralise Somerset's batting, and then their batsmen will be good enough to exploit Somerset's bowling.

NSW Blues

Most of the headlines from this Tournament have surrounded the exceptional display by Dave Warner against Chennai. Where he went nutso, and hit a 69 ball 135 with 8 huge sixes and 11 boundaries. It facilitated the elimination of one of the favourites in Chennai, and set up a mouth watering showdown with Bangalore.

Keys For NSW

The bowling for the Blues is excellent from a penetrative sense, and then has great versatility in the line up. Through not only having very decent front liners like Stuart Clarke, Pat Cummings, Mitchell Starc and the spinner O'Keefe, but then useful part time bowlers like Henriques and Steve Smith.

A major worry is the batting. I say this for it is very reliant on Dave Warner being effective for them to win. Steve Smith has been the only other batsmen that has been effective throughout this tournament. 

There needs to be a huge lift from the other batsmen in the line up for them to have a chance to win the title. Then the man that is most likely to lead the charge is Shane Watson. A batsmen, who in the shorter forms of the game has become renowned for his explosive hitting ability

If the batting can rise to the occasion and be propelled by contributions from all. Then the Team has the bowling strength to win the Semi and be a major threat in the Final

Royal Challengers Bangalore

The Royal Challengers have a batting line up that is reminiscent of murderers row, but then on the flip side have a bowling line up that is very suspect to being murdered. Any chance for them will depend on their bowling lifting to support their batting.

Keys For Bangalore

The Team has to hope Lady Fortune smiles on them in regards to the toss going in their favour. Then if it does, they can use their brutal batting to control the game by putting a huge total on the board, so as to support their fragile bowling.

Looking at the bowling figures for Bangalore, you cannot help but worry for the Teams prospects. This by the fact that aside for Daniel Vettori, who has in his 4 games has got 5 wickets at an average of 20.40 and a economy rate of 6.37. All the rest of the bowlers have economy rates all well over 7.91 and averages well over 35.00. So you can see the major concern over the bowling

A key lift needs to come from a player who received a call up to India in Sreenath Aravind. Who in this Tournament so far has been very disappointing culminating in getting flayed for 0/69 in his 4 overs against South Australia. This is no way good enough for a bowler that has had a fine past in the IPL in the past and a very fine T20 career record 

Career T20 Record: 30 innings, 39 wickets, average 20.41, strike rate 15.70

This Tournament: 4 innings, 4 wickets, average 40.25, strike rate 22.5

If the bowling can perform to a higher level. Then with the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Tillakaratna Dishan and Saurabh Tiwary in the batting line up, it will be mighty tough to beat Bangalore

My Prediction- Bangalore Win

A good batting side in Bangalore versus a good bowling side in NSW. Very tough to choose, but I  favour the Indians because I can see their glut of batsmen being effective enough against the NSW bowlers. Then, although the Bangalore bowling is very weak, it might be effective enough against an NSW Team that is very reliant on Dave Warner to carry them. 

That is unless Shane Watson decides to put on a show...........

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