In-form Sydney Sixers look to seal final berth
A rampaging Sydney Sixers will look to maintain its winning momentum and book a berth in the final when they take on local side Nashua Titans in the second semi-final of the Champions League Twenty20, in Centurion, on Friday.
Sixers is the only side to win all its four group matches and the most all-round team in the tournament, having balance in batting, bowling and fielding.
The Australians virtually spanked all its opponents in the first three Group B matches, and the only time it was put to test was when it clashed with last year's champions Mumbai Indians in the last league game.
The Aussies went into the match without recent World Twenty20 'Player-of-the-Tournament' Shane Watson, who was asked to return by his Board to prepare for the upcoming home series against South Africa.
Image: Steve Smith and Ben Rohrer of the Sydney Sixers
Photographs: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Sydney Sixers' bowlers in impressive form
But, in that match too, the bowlers, who have been in impressive form, stifled the star-studded Mumbai Indians' batting order to restrict them to 124 and ensure Sixers remain unbeaten and go into Friday's semi-finals high on confidence.
Watson and Michael Lumb were in explosive form at the top of the order, providing two 50-plus stands for the opening wicket in three matches they were together.
The middle-order of Nic Maddinson, captain Brad Haddin and Steven Smith supported the openers well. Moises Henriques also showed what a fine all-rounder he is in the shortest format.
The only weak point, if there is any, the Sixers have is the spin department, with main slow bowler Simon O'Keefe having got just one wicket from three matches he played.
The Sixers, though, have relied heavily on its pacers to get the results.
The Titans, however, will have the advantage of crowd support as it is playing at home ground on Friday.
The South African side has a good bowling attack, with the likes of Alfonso Thomas, Ethy Mbhalati, Cornelius deVilliers and Roelof van der Merwe among the wickets, but the weak point is the inconsistent middle-order which will be put to severe test by the Sixers' pacers.
Image: Mitchell Starc of Sydney Sixers
Photographs: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images/Getty Images
Titans have to address the chinks in batting armoury
The top-order of Jacques Rudolph and Henry Davids have given the team good starts most of the time, but the middle order hasn't been able to capitalise on them.
Captain Martin van Jaarsveld, coming either at number four or five, was inconsistent as were Farhaan Behardien, Heino Kuhn or David Wiese.
The batting weakness was exposed to the full in the team's penultimate league match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Cape Town where Titans were all out for 89 in 16.4 overs while chasing a massive 189 for a win.
Their last league match against Delhi Daredevils was washed out without a ball being bowled and the Titans will have to address the chinks in its batting armoury against the top-class pace-heavy bowling attack to have any chance of beating the most impressive side in the tournament.
The Teams (from):
Sydney Sixers: Brad Haddin (capt; wk), Pat Cummins, JoshHazlewood, Moises Henriques, Michael Lumb, Nathan McCullum,Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe, BenRohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely.
Nashua Titans: Martin van Jaarsveld (captain), FarhaanBehardien, Henry Davids, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper),Cornelius de Villiers, Paul Harris, Heino Kuhn (wicketkeeper),Eden Links, Ethy Mbhalati, Mangaliso Mosehle, Rowan Richards,Jacques Rudolph, Alfonso Thomas, Roelof van der Merwe, DavidWiese.
Match starts at 2100 IST
Image: Martin van Jaarsveld
Photographs: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images