Johannesburg, Oct 27: The Champions League Twenty20 will welcome a new winner on Sunday as Sydney Sixers and Highveld Lions face off at the Wanderers Stadium in the final.
Sixers and Lions are the deserving finalists. Throughout the tournament they have been consistent. While the Australian team Sixers are yet to lose a match, Lions' only blemish came against the same opponent in the group stage.
It is tough to pick a favourite between the two. But given the way Sixers have played thus far, they certainly hold edge. Sixers' main weapon is fast bowling.
Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins have been excellent on South African pitches. The trio is again key in the title decider.
Lions, however, cannot be brushed aside. They are the local team and know how to play in their conditions. They have shown how good they can be. Gulam Bodi has been on the top of batting form while opening the batting. In bowling, the left-arm spin of Aaron Phangiso has been superb. Also left-arm paceman Sohail Tanveer and Dirk Nannes are in top form.
With two new outfits in the final of CLT20, we will have a new champion. In the past three years, we have had New South Wales Blues (2009), Chennai Super Kings (2010) and Mumbai Indians (2010) taking the trophy.
The route to the final for both teams was contrasting. While Lions dashed Delhi Daredevils hopes by 22 runs, Sixers had to fighting it out hard for a last-ball thrilling two-wicket win over another South African team, Nashua Titans. Sixers ensured that it was not an all-South African title clash.
Sixers, who were well served by all-rounder Shane Watson in the early stages of the tournament, have proved they can do well without their star player. England recruit Michael Lumb has provided good starts at the top of the order and Moises Henriques has excelled with both bat and ball.
Sixers have so far won five matches on the trot and a sixth success will give them the title. Can Lions halt that streak in front of their home supporters?
Routes to the final
League Stage (Group B Toppers)
League Stage (Group B runner-up)
Sydney Sixers: Brad Haddin (captain), Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Michael Lumb, Nathan McCullum, Nic Maddinson, Ian Moran, Peter Nevill, Stephen O'Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Dominic Thornely, Pat Cummins.
Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen (captain), Temba Bavuma, Gulam Bodi, Zander de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Pumelela Matshikwe, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Ethan O'Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Dwaine Pretorius, Jean Symes, Sohail Tanveer, Thami Tsolekile
Match starts 9PM IST