The Champions League T20 continues with our ante-post pick the Sydney Sixers making their bow. Andy Tongue looks ahead to two cracking clashes on Sunday afternoon
"Chennai's scheduled practice game against the Titans earlier in the week was called off due to rain and they could be a touch undercooked."
The action returns to the Wanderers, Johannesburg which has looked a good T20 pitch thus far with plenty of pace and bounce. Scores in the four qualifying matches played there have been below par, though, with the exception of Trinidad & Tobago's 181/3 in their rain-affected clash on Thursday.
Chennai Super Kings v Sydney Sixers
Chennai Super Kings
The IPL runners-up are led by MS Dhoni and include fellow Indian star Suresh Raina as well as Aussie trio Michael Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, which will add some extra bite to the clash with the Big Bash champions. Their scheduled practice game against the Titans earlier in the week was called off due to rain and they could be a touch undercooked.
All eyes will be on Shane Watson - named player of the tournament in the T20 World Cup - but he can't win the competition on his own so skipper Brad Haddin, all-rounder Steve Smith and pace duo Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will also need to contribute but they look primed to go deep into the tournament.
The Sixers can be backed at a juicy [2.08] to get their campaign off to a winning start and that's certainly good enough for us.
Top Super Kings Batsman
Dhoni looked horribly out of form with the bat in the T20 World Cup so we prefer either Raina or 'Mr Cricket' himself, Hussey, in this market.
Top Sixers Batsman
Watson will be all the rage so look for some value instead with his opening partner Haddin or the youngster Nic Maddinson, their top scorer in the Big Bash.
Back the Sixers to win at [2.08]
Highveld Lions vs Mumbai Indians
The Lions are regarded as the weaker of the two South African sides but could still be capable of causing an upset on home soil. Left-arm quickie Dirk Nannes is an experienced and accomplished T20 bowler and all-rounder Zander de Bruyn is well-known to English fans from his years in county cricket. Captain Alviro Petersen will need to lead from the front with runs at the top of the order if they are to mix it with the IPL big boys.
The defending champions are likely to find it harder this time round away from their home conditions but still possess an array of talent with both bat and ball - captain Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Dinesh Karthik and, of course, Sachin Tendulkar to name but a few. Mercurial Australian quickie Mitchell Johnson has a fine record at the Wanderers and will be desperate to get the ball in his hands..
Mumbai are priced unsurprisingly short at 1.66 but first match of the tournament could see them caught cold and we fancy the Lions' chances of making a real game of it in their own backyard so they are worth backing for a trade.
Top Lions Batsman
Veteran Neil McKenzie is still a destructive batsman in this form of the game and coming in at No. 4 for the Lions is worth backing here.
Top Mumbai Batsman
Rohit Sharma top-scored for Mumbai in the IPL and is preferred to Tendulkar at the likely prices.
Back to lay Lions at [2.46]