The success of the second edition of the Champions League will depend to a great extent, on how the Indian franchises fare in the tournament. Last year, as soon as the Indian franchises lost in the early rounds and did not qualify for the knockout stage the public interest dwindled considerably.
This time in South Africa, we might actually see more at the ground like in the second edition of the Indian premier league which was relocated to South Africa. The South African spectators responded brilliantly despite not having any of its franchises in the tournament, and this time, they actually have their own teams to cheer so the response could be a lot better than it was in India.
As usual, there has been moaning from the overseas franchises who feel that their players who were contracted to the Indian franchises should have been playing for them. As always they have forgotten that, they get paid good money to forego these players to the Indian franchises, besides of course, the appearance money for the event.
There is also huge prize money even for the last placed team in the tournament, and all this in fact helps them to balance their books considerably, and so, they should be the last to complain about their players being taken away by the Indian franchises.It is the money from the Indian franchise that helps them sign their players and that too for a fraction of what the Indian franchises pay. The big incentive for them to win their local tourney is the invitation to play in the Champions League, so the sooner they accept the situation the better for all concerned.
The Chennai Super Kings will be looking to add the Champions League trophy to the one that they won in the Indian Premier League, and they certainly have the team for it.Most of their players have been playing some sort of cricket over the last one month or so and they should be match ready. Only big Matthew Hayden has not played a lot of cricket but great players don't really need much practice and can get going quickly.
This format also suits him perfectly as he can start laying about him straightaway knowing, that he has got some good players to follow in skipper Dhoni and Suresh Raina. Murali Vijay who had such a fine IPL will be keen to show his form again and there is Badrinath to shore up the lower order if needed. The attack will also enjoy bowling on the harder pitches in South Africa. This still being late winter time here, there will be more than a bit of moisture under the surface and that will help the ball to move a fair bit off the pitch and carry to the keeper nicely.
The Wayambas have in their line-up Mahela Jaywardene who had an outstanding IPL tournament, after being promoted to open the batting and his team will be hoping that he continues the same form. Last time they seemed a bit short in the lower order, but it is here, that Farveez Maharoof can come in handy with his big hitting. Their fielding was very good and that is always a big plus in a format where every run matters.
This is where the Warriors and central Districts teams will have an advantage, for they have always been top class fielding teams who do not give easy runs and thus add an edge to the bowling. They may not have too many big name players but they will not be lacking in effort.
All the players are aware, that a good showing in this tournament increases their chances of being picked for one of the teams in the Indian Premier League, and that is as big if not a bigger incentive to perform well and help their team win the Champions League.