CLT20 : Match Preview - Auckland Vs Kolkata Knight Riders

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Hyderabad, Sep 19: Most of the interest in the qualifying stages of the Champions League T20 2011 will be focussed on Pool B - simply because the most high profile team of the qualifiers, the Kolkata Knight Riders, are in this pool. It's an interesting mix of teams in pool B, with one T20 league winner (Auckland), one runner-up (Somerset) and one losing semi-finalist (Kolkata Knight Riders). With each team having only two matches to play in the single-league qualifiers, each match is a very important one for the teams.

Auckland: Auckland have got so far thanks to a thrilling 4-run win over last year's qualifiers, Central Districts, in the HRV Cup in New Zealand. The hero of that win was Michael Bates, who scuttled Central Districts' chase with an opening over that was a triple-wicket maiden. Even though Auckland made it by the skin of their teeth, the players in they have in their ranks mean they are likely to be quite a handful for opposition teams. They have Martin Guptill, Lou Vincent and a bowling attack of Chris Martin, Daryl Tuffey and Kyle Mills. Auckland are coached by the wily Paul Strang, who played with distinction for Zimbabwe at a time when the African nation was a much stronger unit than it is right now, in the mid to late 1990s. In both on-field and off-field personnel thus, Auckland have good men to rely on.

Kolkata Knight Riders: The qualifiers concept has given the Knight Riders a first shot at the Champions League, since they lost the third place match in the IPL and would have not been a part of this tournament under the old rules. However, it is a well acknowledged fact that for the Champions League to be successful, more IPL teams need to be in it, and hence, Kolkata are in the mix. They will be without the man who got them to the semi-finals though, with Gautam Gambhir not yet recovered fully. Even without Gambhir though, Kolkata have a pretty good side. Jacques Kallis will be the captain along with their key player, while amongst the Indian recruits, Yusuf Pathan and Manoj Tiwary should be the men to look out for. Leading the pace attack will be Brett Lee, who still has the ability to change a game in a short, fast, furious spell.

Watch out for:

Yusuf Pathan: The big-hitting Yusuf will be on a mission. He was ignored for India's ill-fated England tour, despite the truck-load of injuries, and he will know that a strong performance in the Champions League is the best way to win back his spot in the ODI side. There is also the matter of wanting to show the selectors that they were wrong to ignore him.

Andre Adams: Andre Adams was in terrific bowling form for Auckland in the HRV cup, grabbing 13 wickets from 13 wickets - nearly double those of the next highest on the list for Auckland, Kyle Mills with 7. His economy rate of 6.33 too was superb. The fact that he emerged as the best bowler in a squad that had international bowlers such as Mills, Martin and Tuffey, speaks of just how effective he was.

Weather Update:

Isolated thunderstorms have been forecast in Hyderabad for 19th September. Given that this will be the second match of the day - after Ruhuna vs Trinidad & Tobago - a shower at the wrong time could hinder prospects. The spectators, will of course, be hoping for thunderstorms of a different kind, the ones that Yusuf Pathan regularly creates while batting.


Kolkata Knight Riders (From): Jacques Kallis(c), Brad Haddin(w), Manoj Tiwary, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Iqbal Abdulla, Brett Lee, Manvinder Bisla, Jaidev Unadkat, Rajat Bhatia, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Shami Ahmed

Auckland Aces (From): Gareth Hopkins(w/c), Lou Vincent, Daryl Tuffey, Rob Quiney, Colin Munro, Kyle Mills, Chris Martin, Bruce Martin, Anaru Kitchen, Ronnie Hira, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Michael Bates, Jimmy Adams, Andre Adams.

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Title: CLT20 : Match Preview - Auckland Vs Kolkata Knight Riders

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