Braai, beer and some big bashers

2010-09-24 00:00

EVERYWHERE you look, there is a star attraction going into this evening’s Champions League T20 semi-final between the Chennai Superkings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Tonight’s all-IPL tussle of the titans should provide plenty of fireworks — failing which, the organisers will deliver, anyway.

It is a mighty match-up, and respective skippers Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai) and Anil Kumble (Bangalore) have stressed that, in this format especially, form counts for precious little.

Both sides barely made it this far, but they will now believe that they can string together two strong showings during South Africa’s heritage weekend, and depart with the Champions League loot.

“The last time we played Chennai here, we won,” Kumble said when asked about his side’s less than encouraging showing at Kingsmead in this tournament.

Any psychological edge is being used and Kumble’s reference to last year’s IPL semi-final at the same venue stands for very little in reality.

The conditions were vastly different — the relative calm of April, as opposed to the heat of National Braai Day — and both sides have evolved in the interim.

“A lot of it will come down to the conditions,” Dhoni pointed out. His side chose not to practise yesterday, as they had travelled from Port Elizabeth after their tight win over the Warriors on Wednesday night.

“Our pace bowlers need to stand up,” Dhoni added, as he lay down the challenge to the likes of Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel to do the business.

“Most of the pitches we have played on have been like the sub-continent, so our spinners have been very successful. Even Justin Kemp has played an important role with his medium-pace,” Dhoni explained.

But Wilson Ngobese’s pitches have had a bit more life than the PE feather-bed, and one can certainly expect the fast men to be more of a factor tonight.

And that means Bangalore’s speedsters will also be licking their lips at the prospect. Especially one Dale Steyn, who was fast and furious in his last gallop in these parts.

The world’s premier quickie made Kieron Pollard so uncomfortable he left the building after four balls, so Chennai’s sluggers will be on red-alert.

“We have our plans, but those will only be revealed tonight,” Kumble said when asked if Steyn would strum out some chin music. “In this format, it is important to be quite fluid in your plans, too,” he added.

Steyn’s new role in the middle overs has given Bangalore firmer control on the opposition’s run charge, but the likes of Mike Hussey and indeed Dhoni will give the Phalaborwa Express plenty to consider, too.

It is a contest littered with heavy-weight contests. Steyn v Hussey, Bollinger v Rahul Dravid, Dhoni v Kumble. We do not often get to celebrate a glut of stars with plenty of beer and boerewors — and no ill feeling when one or the other team is losing.

The only hangover tomorrow morning will be self-inflicted, and there is the whole weekend to recover.

Heck, to those not meandering down to Kingsmead, flick on the tube and celebrate South Africa’s heritage by viewing the IPL’s finest in our own backyard. It should be a ruddy riot.

Chennai Superkings v Royal Challengers Bangalore from 5pm on Supersport 2.

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