With qualifying completed, cricket’s Champions League begins properly on Saturday with South Africa’s Titans taking on the Perth Scorchers (12.30pm BST).
Both teams are packed with international talent and are dominant forces in their own domestic T20 competitions so a close and entertaining match should be in prospect.
The teams look to be evenly matched and with the benefit of playing on home soil, you may think the Titans offer better value in the result market.
Looking at the two line-ups, Perth have an experienced side led by former Australian international Marcus North. The skipper is an effective lower order batsman who bowls innocuous but occasionally effective off spin and North is likely to have a key role to play in this game and in the fixtures ahead.
The Scorchers will also include England’s 2010 World T20 winning captain Paul Collingwood. At 36, the Durham all-rounder is approaching veteran status but will be vital with both bat and ball to help his side across the line in tight finishes.
Collingwood may have valued experience but incredibly, there are three players in the side older than him. Simon Katich at 37 and South African Herschelle Gibbs, who is 38, will be vital at the top of the order while the 41-year-old Brad Hogg is a regular performer in T20 matches across the world.
It’s clear that the Australian side are hoping that this experience will count in their favour but equally, the fact that they have an ageing side is an area that other teams will look to exploit.
The Titans hope to be first in line to make life hard for Perth’s 30 and 40-somethings. The South African team are three-time winners of their domestic T20 tournament and are captained by another veteran, 38-year-old Martin van Jaarsveld.
The skipper aside, this is a much younger team and it features a crop of current internationals including Jacques Rudolph, Farhaarn Berhardien and current South African T20 captain AB De Villiers.
All will have a crucial role to play in the batting department while the Titans feature a man who many believe to be the best exponent of ‘death bowling’ in limited overs cricket. Alphonso Thomas fetches big money from T20 teams across the globe and on home grounds with his own side, he could be a crucial figure in this match and in the whole tournament.
Titans’ attack is complemented by twin left arm spinners Paul Harris and Roelof van der Merwe. Both men have fallen out of favour with international selectors but will be crucial to their side’s Champions League bid.
Titans v Perth Scorchers Betting Tips
Opening games from any tournament are always tough to predict and this is no exception. Perth have the experience and the benefit of overseas imports while the only negative factor is their collective age.
The Titans may not have the depth of quality but they have some big players and more importantly, they have current T20 internationals. In fact, it’s a little surprising to see the Scorchers installed as favourites at 4/5 (Bet365, Betfred or BetVictor) because it all points to a Titans win.