The Masters Champions League is well underway now and the fixtures are coming thick and fast for our favourite old-timers.
Wednesday’s first fixture will see the Libra Legends and the Virgo Super Kings – the only two teams without a win in this year’s competition – go head to head before the pre-tournament favourites, the Gemini Arabians tackle the Capricorn Commanders later on in the day.
Legends 9/10 Expected Odds
Super Kings 9/10
The Libra Legends were comfortably beaten by the Gemini Arabians at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium last Thursday. Having won the toss and electing to field, Jacques Kallis and his men were taken apart by some fantastic batting.
Virender Sehwag clipped the opening ball of the competition for six over deep backward square leg after Andy McKay angled to ball in at leg stump. From there on in it was all about the Arabians’ trio of Richard Levi, Kumar Sangakkara and Brad Hodge who deposited the toothless Legends’ bowling attacks to all parts of the DSC.
The only bowler who managed to keep a lid on things was Aussie leg-spinner, Brad Hogg. The other five bowlers, McKay, Ian Butler, Sean Ervine, Ryan ten Doeschate and Marcus North all conceded more than 11 runs an over.
The manner in which their top order capitulated at the prospect of chasing 234 will also worry the Legends’ management. Both Kallis and Michael Lumb – two guys that will be required to get the bulk of the runs – failed with the bat. In fact, only ten Doeschate, Ervine and Tim Ambrose put up any sort of resistance as the Legends limped to 156, eventually losing the game by 78-runs.
The Super Kings will have been disappointed to lose their opening fixture against the Sagittarius Strikers. Having restricted Adam Gilchrist and his men to 157-6 after some tidy bowling from the likes of Brett Lee, Jacob Oram and Gareth Batty.
Their chase got off to the worst possible start with both openers dismissed cheaply. The trend would continue throughout the middle and lower order with only Azhar Mahmood (51) and Lee (21) putting up any sort of resistance.
Even though the Legends were hammered in their first game by the Strikers, I do still think that they have enough quality to overcome the Super Kings. The likes of Michael Lumb, Kallis, ten Doeschate and Hogg are all more than capable of guiding the Legends to victory over a rather lame-looking Super Kings side. Back the Legends.
Arabians 2/5 Expected Odds
Having played two games in this season’s Masters Champions League, the Gemini Arabians definitely look like the team to beat. They’ve been magnificent with both bat and ball in hand, blowing away the Libra Legends, and more recently the Leo Lions.
Mutthiah Muralitharan showed the world that he hasn’t lost any of his prowess with the ball as he tore through the Lions’ middle order to reduce Brian Lara and his men to just 132-7 from their allotted 20 overs. He combined magnificently with Saqlain Mushtaq in the middle overs to restrict the Lions’ scoring. The two would bowl four overs each both conceding fewer than four runs an over as they delivered an off-spin master class.
Sangakkara and Hodge once again came to the party during the chase after Sehwag and Levi were dismissed rather cheaply. Hodge would go on to claim 65 from 43 balls while Sangakkara managed a run-a-ball 41 as the Arabians cantered across the line.
The Commanders used eight different bowlers on their way to restricting the Strikers to 143-6 in their pursuit of 147 they required for victory. All eight bowlers – with the exception of South African, Rory Kleinveldt – bowled economically and restricted the scoring as they piled the pressure on the of the Strikers’ lower order.
The foundations for the Commanders’ victory were laid by Ashwell Prince (29), Saleem Elahi (43) and Abdul Razzaq (39) who all starred with the bat. The remainder of the side all struggled to come to grips with Nathan Haurtiz’ off-spin as he claimed two wickets and conceded just 20 runs from his four overs.
The Commanders simply don’t have what it takes to compete with an incredibly strong Arabians side. Back Sehwag and his men to cruise to victory on Wednesday.