Champions League Twenty20 Semi-Finals Preview
Following 17 days of high drama, thrills, spills, unlikely heroes and exciting finishes, just four teams remain in the Champions League Twenty20 - Mumbai Indians, New South Wales, Somerset and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Here were preview the semi-finals.
7th October: New South Wales v Royal Challengers Bangalore, Bangalore
The first of the two semi-finals pits two of the biggest hitters in world cricket against one another in Chris Gayle and David Warner.
Gayle almost single-handedly smashed Somerset into submission while Warner's outstanding century ended Chennai Super King's hopes and 2009 champions New South Wales will be keen to claim another Indian scalp as they bid to reach another final.
Bangalore scraped into the final courtesy of Arun Karthik's last-ball six which downed South Australia but that result, when they chased down 215 to win, proved that if Gayle doesn't score runs, they are still a force to be reckoned with - something that was doubted after the 2011 IPL season.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli played brilliant knocks and even though they threatened to throw the game away at the end, eventually they held their nerve - something they might have to do again as they come up against an Australian side itself used to winning the tight games.
Warner, Shane Watson and Simon Katich might not have (quite) the same star quality as Bangalore's top order, but they have proved very effective and they bat deep - witness their smash and grab win over Trinidad and Tobago.
Left-armers Stephen O'Keefe (6) and Daniel Vettori (5) are the leading tournament wicket-takers for these two teams and both are canny operators. Expect Bangalore to press Dilshan and Gayle into service with the ball if they again struggle to contain the runs once their frontline bowlers are not operating.
8th October: Mumbai Indians v Somerset, Chennai
The second game sees Somerset take on the Mumbai Indians in a match that sees West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard playing for Mumbai against a Somerset side he has won several games for over the last two years.
The English team's journey to the final has been the longest and most arduous as they had to come through a qualifying group involving Auckland and Kolkata Knight Riders and then had to win their final group game clash against the Warriors, which they did by 12 runs.
With the bat, Roelof van der Merwe can be marked down as their danger man, hitting 137 runs at a seriously quick rate although Peter Trego, Craig Kieswetter and Jos Buttler have also been playing well and getting Somerset into winning positions.
Alfonso Thomas has been inspirational with the ball and leading the side with five wickets at under eight runs per over and they will bank on the experience of him, Murali Kartik and Steve Kirby to steer their side.
The Mumbai team remain a force to be reckoned with - as any team with one S.R Tendulkar in their line-up will be - although prior to the tournament, few would have predicted that Lasith Malinga would have taken just four wickets so far. He has, however, proved to be an unlikely match-winner with the bat.
He may be due a big performance and is a proven big-match performer, as is Pollard, who is their leading run-getter in the competition.
Now, though is the time for Andrew Symonds, Ambati Rayudu and Rajagopal Sathish, who have not been in any sort of form so far, to step up with the bat and enable Pollard, Harbhajan Singh and Malinga - all three of whom are conceding less than seven runs per over - to put Somerset under real pressure.
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