Mohali: Back-to-back wins by Sunrisers Hyderabad and Otago Volts in the Champions League Twenty20 Qualifiers have taken them through to the main tournament, leaving the last two matches of the qualifying phase on Friday as dead rubbers.
Faisalabad Wolves take on Kandurata Maroons in the first match here on Friday, followed by the battle between the two unbeaten teams of the Qualifiers - Hyderabad and Otago - who will like to carry the winning momentum into the main event that begins on Saturday.
Hyderabad and Otago will be tempted to put their bench strength to test but may not eventually do so at the cost of their winning momentum that plays a crucial role in the T20 format. The teams have had a good day's rest, and their first elevens should be fresh to resume their jobs on Friday.
Hyderabad will like their middle order to have a hit since their two consecutive successful wins by eight and seven wickets have left it unused. Shikhar Dhawan's two consecutive half centuries and big stands with opening partner Parthiv Patel have laid the foundations for these wins. Thisara Perera and JP Duminy are the only two other batsmen who have managed to spend some time in the middle.
SRH bowling came a cropper against Kandurata with Dale Steyn looking rusty and Thisara Perera average, but the unit got its act together against Faisalabad and restricted them to 127. Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra have been the standout bowlers in two matches so far. Mishra, who was underbowled against Kandurata, gave away only 13 in his four overs against Faisalabad.
Otago are on a roll having won their last 12 T20 matches. Their batsmen have been up to scratch, with skipper Brendon McCullum, Dutchman Ryan ten Doeschate and Hamish Rutherford leading the batting unit. McCullum struck an unbeaten 83 against Faisalabad and Doeschate hammered Kandurata with a 32-ball 64.
Ian Butler has spearheaded the Otago attack with five wickets in his kitty so far. He has been well supported by James McMillan and Neil Wagner, but they definitely miss a quality spinner in the side, though Nathan McCullum can bowl more than useful spin.