Preview: Battle between home favourites and title favourites
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:Lions v Sydney Sixers
Event:Champions League 2012/13

DateLine: 28th October 2012


Lions v Sydney Sixers
Match Preview
Champions League T20 2012


Invincible so far in the competition, Sydney Sixers are firm favourites for the title but South Africa's enterprising Highveld Lions would look to upset the Australian powerhouse's applecart when the two sides clash in the Champions League Twenty20 final today.


The Bull Ring that happens to be the home den for the Lions is expected to be buried in a sea of red thunder. The Lions displaying commitment, camaraderie and confidence (have to some extent) helped South African cricket shrug off the chokers tag that has been associated with them for over a decade. However, the other South African representatives, the Titans choked in the closing stages to ruin the possibility of an all South Africa final.


The Lions have been a competitive side throughout but their batting does tend to rely on just two men. Gulam Bodi and Neil McKenzie sit in first and second place respectively as the tournament’s highest run scorers and Bodi in particular has found excellent form with three half centuries.


Bodi will be relied upon to make a powerful start at the top of the order while McKenzie is the Lions “finisher”– the man entrusted with the job of scoring enough runs in the finals overs to chase down or mount a large total. Both will be crucial to their team’s success but equally, the Sixers’ bowling attack will know exactly who they need to target. Elsewhere, Lions’ skipper Alviro Petersen showed in the semi final win over Delhi that he is just starting to find the form that has deserted him so far and he will need to offer Bodi and McKenzie better support.


Chris Morris was outstanding during the semi-final for the Lions against Delhi and his spell won the match for them. He finally showed his class in the semi-final where he did a terrific job at tying down the Delhi batsman taking 2 for 7 from 4 overs which included the wickets of Warner and Pietersen.


Aaron Phangiso’s left arm spin has been their most dangerous weapon and he will play the vital role when Petersen’s men take to the field. Unlike Sydney however, there may not be the strength in depth to offer enough support to Phangiso and this is where the Sixers can win the game.


As for the Sixers, despite losing the services of their match-winner, prolific all-rounder Shane Watson, Sydney were strong enough for the Mumbai Indians in their final Group fixture and their semifinal clash against the Titans even though it was a close shave last time. They have shown that they can cope without Shane Watson who left the camp before their own semi against the Titans on Friday. However, it’s fair to say that Sydney have struggled without their main all-rounder and their two victories in his absence haven’t been quite so convincing.


The final will therefore bring a lot of pressure on Michael Lumb who has made consistent scores at the top of the order without actually going on to compile a big innings. The English left hander is pivotal to Sydney’s chances as is skipper Brad Haddin coming in at number three.


The Sixers certainly have the edge in the bowling department and their line up contains some of the most promising young bowlers in Australian cricket. Mitchell Starc is the tournament’s leading wicket taker by some distance but the left arm paceman has received useful support from the likes of Pat Cummins and Moises Henriques. Steve O’Keefe doesn’t usually open the batting for Sydney but when he does he always contributes well to the team and he would like to continue that. He is more recognized as an orthodox bowler but his batting is what will be more important during the final. O’Keefe has only taken one wicket all tournament but he opened the batting in the semi-final which set up a win for Sydney after his 21 ball 32 run cameo.


This should certainly be a more closely contested final and although the Sixers secured a comfortable win over the Lions in the Group stages, it was done with the help of a major contribution from the departed Shane Watson.


Overall, the two batting line ups are well matched but Sydney’s strength in the bowling department is crucial and it should give Haddin’s side the edge in this final. However, the Lions will also bank on the home support they are likely to enjoy to outwit Sydney, a team which has looked unstoppable all through the event.




Sydney Sixers: Brad Haddin, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Michael Lumb, Nathan McCullum, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely.


Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen, Temba Bavuma, Gulam Bodi, Zander de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Pumelela Matshikwe, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Ethan O'Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Dwaine Pretorius, Sohail Tanvir, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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