T20 Champions League preview: Sixers set for glory

A rested Kevin Pietersen could be in the runs during the Champions League
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The Australian outfit, the Sydney Sixers, will enjoy the South African conditions and can upset the IPL big boys, says Andy Tongue

"The man for the big occasion and with something to prove Kevin Pietersen, who undertook nothing more taxing than a stint in the commentary box, is an obvious pick for top run-scorer."

Just 48 hours after the final shot was played in the T20 World Cup the first ball will be bowled in the T20 Champions League in South Africa.

The tournament's format counts against the two English sides, Hampshire and Yorkshire, who must fight their way through the qualifying stage to reach the group stage, where the four IPL sides, two from the Big Bash and two home representatives join proceedings.

The IPL sides are perhaps not surprisingly the market leaders given they are able to call upon the star players from some of their rivals. Trinidad & Tobago's star trio Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and 'mystery' spinner Sunil Narine will be playing for IPL outfits as will the Titans' Morkel brothers, Morne and Albie.

However, given the South African wickets should provide more pace and bounce and considerably less spin than the sub-continent we're going to look at the only non-IPL side to have won the T20 Champions League.

In fact, the Sydney Sixers are the successors to the New South Wales Blues who triumphed in 2009 and reached the semi-finals last year (both held in India) but they retain the bulk of those squads.

Until they fell apart against eventual winners the West Indies, Australia performed well in the T20 World Cup and, provided they are not too tired from those exertions, the likes of Shane Watson, a class act with both bat and ball in Sri Lanka, finishing top run-scorer and second highest wicket taker, and Mitchell Starc should carry on their impressive form with the explosive hitting of skipper Brad Haddin added into the mix.

When the competition was last held in South Africa in 2010, the two Big Bash sides won seven of their eight group matches and available at [8.6], on pitches that should more similar to those they play on in Australia than the IPL tracks, the Sixers can land the money.

Recommended Bet: Back Sydney Sixers to win at [8.6]

Top Run Scorer

In the individual markets it could pay to look for players who sat out the World Cup and will arrive fresh in South Africa. The man for the big occasion and with something to prove Kevin Pietersen, who undertook nothing more taxing than a stint in the commentary box, is an obvious pick for top run-scorer, even allowing for the fact he is set to return to England during the group stages for clear-the-air talks with his international team-mates. Playing in the country of his birth always bring out the best in KP and playing for the Daredevils, who should go deep into the tournament will give him every chance to rack up the runs.

Martin van Jaarsveld is a class act with the bat and was a key part of the successful T20 teams at Kent over the years. On home soil, he is available at a chunky looking [21.0], which could pay dividends if his Titans can squeeze into the knockout stages.

Recommended Bets:
Back Kevin Pietersen to be tournament top run scorer at [5.1]
Back Martin Van Jaarsveld to be tournament top run scorer at [21.0]

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