Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teams set sights on bigger bash

New South Wales versus Victoria in Delhi is a strange proposition if you're an Australian cricket fan. Back in Australia, the Champions League Twenty20 has been shown on a digital TV channel that not everyone has access to, so it's hard to judge the level of interest from the public. But there's enough in this clash to suggest an intense contest even if the turnout is likely to be far less than a packed SCG would throw up.NSW, the champions of Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash, were the first team from Group B to secure their passage to the next phase, with points carried forward, to the second round of the competition. They were joined by Victoria, arguably Australia's best Twenty20 side, having won the Big Bash for three consecutive years until this year's final. The prospect of an all-Australian final was shot when Delhi Daredevils beat Cobras in a low-scorer in Delhi, which means Wednesday's contestants will play on a slow-and-low track instead of the batsman-friendly Hyderabad surface. The pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla hasn't been encouraging for batsmen - nine were bowled in the last league match - and NSW captain Simon Katich had earlier spoken of how keen the team was to leave Delhi. In that regard, NSW's pace attack will be harder to handle.


Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger, Stuart Clark and Nathan Hauritz share the ball in that order when NSW take the field and, as Eagles, Sussex and Somerset found out, they can be a handful. Victoria have been the form team every year in Australia, but it is NSW who have the edge here by virtue of their top order and international-class bowling attack. Even without Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke and Nathan Bracken, NSW can still field almost an entire XI that has played for Australia.


Both are long-time rivals, being the two most-populated Australian states, and there has always been a "healthy' Melbourne-Sydney rivalry in Australia. In the past, Victorian fans have always been a bit envious of how many NSW players get selected for Australia; in fact, there was an old joke that when you made your debut for NSW, they also handed you a Baggy Green in a brown paper bag. That attitude isn't quite as pronounced - as the presence of Cameron White, now Australia's Twenty20 vice-captain, and Peter Siddle, the ICC's Emerging Player of the Year, will testify to. It all adds to an intriguing all-Australian clash. David Warner and Phillip Hughes v Victoria's attack: Hughes is the tournament's leading run-scorer and Warner smashed 63 from 41 balls and 40 from 16 in consecutive innings. Clint McKay, Shane Harwood and Andrew McDonald have been central to Victoria's success here and how they bowl to a superb opening act provides an appetising entrée to this match.


NSW's attack v Victoria's top order: Victoria's top order has failed to fire collectively; three of their four games resulted in scores of 55 for 2, 68 for 4 and 59 for 4. So up against a red-hot pace attack, Victoria's start must be strong. Rob Quiney has scored just 29 in three innings since his 40 against Delhi but he could take this stage to exact revenge on NSW. The last time he played them, in the Big Bash final, Quiney scored 91 from 56 balls in a losing cause.


Cameron White and David Hussey: Victoria were without this pair, away on Australian duty, for the Big Bash final and they could make the difference between winning and losing this time around. Both have gained much more exposure from playing for Australia this past season and will undoubtedly be keen to avoid an NSW repeat. Hussey, the second-fastest century-maker in Australia's domestic one-day history, is due some runs.


Andrew McDonald: He has been Victoria's bowler of the tournament so far - and the third leading wicket-taker - with eight wickets at 11.00 and an economy rate of 5.86. In conditions that are likely to help pace bowlers, he could be a handful yet again. McDonald has also yet to be dismissed in two innings.

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