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Champions League T20: Players to watch out for

Last updated on: October 7, 2009 09:23 IST

Herschelle Gibbs

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The inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament begins in Bangalore on Thursday, October 8, with  Indian Premier League-II runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on South Africa's Cape Cobras. Hyderabad will host the final, on October 23, as well as the second semi-final, on October 22, while Delhi host the first semi-final on October 21.

A look at some of the players who could light up the 16-day tournament.

South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs will play for Cape Cobras in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20. The explosive opener, who is also a member of Deccan Chargers, will not be a part of the Indian contingent, and instead play for his native team.

 With an impressive strike rate of 129 in Twenty20, Gibbs can blow away any opposition if he gets going.

Although his T20 record is not as impressive as his One-day International record, he is a dangerous proposition for opening bowlers.


Image: Herschelle Gibbs
Photographs: Reuters
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Daniel Vettori

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He is supposed to be New Zealand's lucky charm.

And, to quite an extent, he could well emerge the lucky charm of Delhi Daredevils.

The $625,000-player adds variety to the Delhi team with his perfect bowling, and also contributes with the bat.

With a good economy rate, he is really handy in the middle overs and can also chip in with useful contributions with the bat.


Image: Daniel Vettori
Photographs: Reuters
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Ajantha Mendis

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The mystery spinner, who impressed in the second season of the IPL Kolkata Knight Riders, will play for Wayamba, under the astute leadership of Mahela Jayawardne.

Mendis, who wreaks havoc with his carrom ball delivery, hasn't played many T20 games, but has shown his class in the limited opportunity he had so far.

With 43 wickets in his kitty, and a best if 4/157, the Lankan spinner could be the surprise package of the tournament.


Image: Ajantha Mendis
Photographs: Reuters
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Ross Taylor

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New Zeland's backbone is fast emerging on the international firmament as among the best batsman. His 31-ball 81 knock for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Kolkata Knight Riders was the best of the IPL season 2.

So much so that his strike-rate of 245.45 is the highest in all IPL matches for any batsman scoring a fifty.

The Kiwi dynamite boasts a healthy strike rate of 123.29 and will be a key player for the Bangalore team.


Image: Ross Taylor
Photographs: Reuters
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Tillakaratne Dilshan

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The 'Dilscoop' is an innovation that almost every player is trying with varying degrees of success. And the person responsible for this eponymous innovation remains very much capable of making similar innovations in the days ahead.

Tillakeratne Dilshan, in his own words, perfected the shot while practicing for Delhi Daredevils during the second season of the IPL. He is a vital cog in the Delhi side's scheme of things and relishes the shortest version of the game.

Besides excelling in the IPL II, the 32-year-old Sri Lankan came up with a superlative effort in the T20 World Cup in England, emerging the 'Player of the Series' with 317 runs in seven matches.


Image: Tillakaratne Dilshan
Photographs: Reuters
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Virender Sehwag

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Virender Sehwag's captaincy can be questioned, but his ability as a batsman better be not. And now that he has relinquished the former role, Delhi fans can expect some fireworks ahead of Diwali.

Sehwag's opening partnership with Gautam Gambhir has given Daredevils many a great start in the first two editions of the Indian Premier League and Delhi fans are hoping for more of the same in the coming days.

Sehwag will turn 31 (on October 20) during the tournament and what better way to celebrate than helping Delhi to the title.


Image: Virender Sehwag
Photographs: Reuters
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Gautam Gambhir

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He is the captain-designate of Delhi Daredevils. Apologies, but we need to clarify here that Gautam Gambhir did lead Delhi in some matches in IPL II in Virender Sehwag's absence and did a pretty decent job at the helm.

But it is his batting that his team will be relying on more to give them explosive starts. If both Gambhir and Sehwag do click on the same day, the opposition will be in for some serious trouble.

And like his opening partner Sehwag, Gambhir too will celebrate his birthday (on October 14, he turns 28) during the tournament.


Image: Gautam Gambhir
Photographs: Reuters
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Brett Lee

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Fresh from his exploits in Australia's triumphant Champions Trophy campaign, Brett Lee is expected to play a leading hand in New South Wales' campaign in the upcoming tournament.

The speedster, who did not play much for Kings XI Punjab in the second season of the IPL because of injury, is back to his best with the ball, having developed a range of new skills using the yorker, slower ball and slower bouncer.

In 17 matches the 32-year-old has 17 wickets with a best of 3-37.

In the absence of the likes of Brad Haddin and Nathan Bracken to injury and knowledge Indian conditions, Lee holds the responsibility of NSW's main strike bowler.


Image: Brett Lee
Photographs: Reuters
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Brendon McCullum

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New Zealand wicket-keeper-batsman chose against dumping his home side Otago for Australian side New South Wales.

Having turned out for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League he will be looking to prove a point.

He can really be destructive once he gets going at the top of the innings.

How can anyone forget the 158 not out off only 73 balls against Bagalore Royal Challengers in the inaugural match of the first edition of the IPL. The innings is currently the highest score by a batsman in a T20 match.


Image: Brendon McCullum
Photographs: Reuters
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Andrew Symonds

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The most expensive buy of Deccan Chargers, Andrew Symonds enjoyed a decent run of form in both editions of the IPL. The Champions League will serve the 34-year-old as a comeback vehicle to make a mark on the field and improve his tarnished reputation with memorable performances with both, bat and ball.

In 39 T20 matches, including the IPL, Symonds's highest of 117 not out came against Rajasthan Royals in the IPL in 2008.

With his hard-hitting prowess and match-wining ability, expect fireworks from the big man.


Image: Andrew Symonds
Photographs: Reuters
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Adam Gilchrist

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Former Australia opener Adam Gilchrist was handed the reigns of Deccan Chargers after a dismal showing in the first edition of the IPL. He led the team from the front, and how. His inspirational captaincy coupled with top-class glove-work and fiery batting saw Chargers taste glory.

The 37-year-old New South Welshman hasn't enjoyed as much success in the T20 format as in the 50-over game, but much hope is pinned on the man who has scored the fastest century in the IPL (100 off 42 deliveries).

Can he inspire Deccan Chargers to be Champions of Champions? Only time will tell.


Image: Adam Gilchrist
Photographs: Reuters
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Dwayne Bravo

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Cometh the hour cometh the man. How many times has Dwayne Bravo shown the world that he is the man for big moments? Possessing an attitude of a match-winner, this 25-year-old West Indian all-rounder has more often than not taken West Indies from the brink to the shores of victory.

He hasn't made that much of an impact in T20 cricket, especially in the IPL with Mumbai Indians. But don't write him off so quickly.

In the recent T20 World Championships, he notched career-best figures of 4/38 and later blasted 66 (his highest score in the T20 format) to put defending champions India out of contention.

Time has come for the talent to make a mark in Trinidad and Tobago colours.


Image: Dwayne Bravo
Photographs: Reuters
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Peter Siddle

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After winning the ICC Emerging Player of the Year award, Peter Siddle will like to do justice to the achievement while playing for Victoria Bushrangers.

Siddle has played only one T20 match -- that against New Zealand in which he had figures of 2-24.

With so little experience in this format of the game, he is surely bracing  for a challenge.


Image: Peter Siddle
Photographs: Reuters
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Mahela Jayawardene

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Inspirational captain, fantastic batsman, Mahela Jayawardene is perfect guy to lead Sri Lanka's Wayamba in the Champions League.

Jayawardene is the best batsman the island has produced since Sanath Jayasuriya. Having played for Kings XI Punjab in the inaugural IPL and IPL-2 he will look to use the experience and lead his side to the title.

He boasts of an impressive average of 30.5 in 53 matches at a strike rate of 129.35.


Image: Mahela Jayawardene
Photographs: Reuters
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Cameron White

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The next big thing in Australian cricket is Victoria Bushrangers captain Cameron White. He has come of age with good batting performances in Australia's Champions Trophy triumph and the Twenty20 version is ideally suited for someone like him who can roll his arm over if required.

The middle-order batsman boasts of an impressive tally of two centuries and 22 wickets in the shortest format of the game. On his day, he is a match-winner.


Image: Cameron White
Photographs: Reuters
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