Sunday’s action in cricket’s T20 Champions League is completed when the South African Lions take on Mumbai Indians in Johannesburg (4.30pm BST).
The Indians have yet to win their domestic IPL but they are the reigning Champions in this particular tournament and the home side are faced with the toughest of opening contests.
As for the Lions themselves, they have a good mix of youth and experience but haven’t won a domestic T20 trophy since 2007 and an overall lack of quality leaves them as one of the tournament’s outsiders.
This pride of Lions will rely heavy on three veterans within the side. Neil Mackenzie is a 36-year-old former South African international who is still a major force in limited overs cricket around the world. He was a member of the successful Hampshire Hawks side who won two domestic trophies in England and his runs will be vital in the middle order.
Zander de Bruyn’s CV is similar to MacKenzie’s and at 37, his international days may be behind him but in the shortest form of the game he will be key to the Lions success. In the bowling department, 36-year-old Dirk Nannes is a much travelled T20 specialist and the Aussie international’s left arm pace will need to take the bulk of the Lions’ wickets.
Elsewhere, this is an inexperienced team and few are expecting the Lions to do too much in the way of roaring as the tournament progresses.
Mumbai are captained by Harbhajan Singh who took over from Sachin Tendulkar on the eve of this year’s IPL. Tendulkar remains in the squad however but can he still perform at the highest level needed to win close T20 contests?
Both men will be vital to the Indians’ success in this tournament while Munaf Patel and Rohit Sharma provide extra international experience to bolster Bhaji’s men.
However, Mumbai’s overseas imports are arguably the most impressive in the whole of this year’s Champions League. The bowling attack will be led by Australia’s Mitchell Johnson and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga – one of the best death bowlers in limited overs cricket.
On the batting side, South African Richard Levi is a devastating hitter who, until recently, held the highest score in international T20. ieron Pollard is an equally dangerous player who performed a useful role in West Indies’ recent World Cup triumph.
The most underrated player here is Dwayne Smith, another West Indian who was unlucky to miss out on a place in the final. Smith offers fast scoring and some useful medium pace bowling and he is also one of the best fielders in the game.
Lions v Mumbai Indians Betting Tips
Ahead of this match, it’s a little surprising to see some bookmakers offering similar prices on both of these sides. The Lions may have home advantage but Mumbai have all the quality and it’s difficult to see anything other than a win for Mumbai Indians.