Chennai: In a key Group A game on Wednesday, New South Wales Blues and Trinidad and Tobago will go head to head, gunning for their first points in this year's Champions League Twenty20.
Both sides have several issues to address, having lost their opening group matches of the tournament. While NSW went down by seven wickets to underdogs Cape Cobras, T&T were narrowly beaten by Mumbai Indians despite having taken the match to the last ball after scoring a paltry 98.
The fight T&T put up while defending the low total was largely down to their superb fielding, which made it difficult for their opposition to score runs. However, the gritty spirit shown in the field will need to be matched by the batsmen as well, or else the West Indians risk an early exit from the event.
Against Mumbai, the batting collapsed after the careless run-out of opener Lendl Simmons (21). T&T went from 41-1 to 98 all out as only Jason Mohammed (23) put up any resistance. A lot more will be expected from the likes of Darren Bravo, Adrian Barath and Denesh Ramdin, to help their side post a competitive total.
The NSW batting line-up is far superior in comparison, at least on paper, with openers David Warner and Shane Watson providing the firepower at the top. However, the rest frittered away the good start provided by them against the Cobras, eventually managing only 135-8, so as Ben Rohrer pointed out, the middle-order will have to step up against T&T.
Meanwhile, the bowling did not fare too well against the Cobras either, so pacer Stuart Clark is likely to be included in the team this time around. Skipper Simon Katich will also look to use Watson, who was surprisingly not asked to bowl in the first game.
For T&T, who came through the qualifying competition, the bowling will again depend on experienced and reliable medium pacer Ravi Rampaul, who picked up 3 for 17 against Mumbai. He was well-supported by leg-spinner Samuel Badree and off-spinner Sunil Narine, both of whom conceded less than 4 runs an over.
The match is a repeat of the final of the inaugural CLT20, which NSW won in 2009. This time around too, the experienced Australian side will be the favourites, though they will need to fire collectively. However, as T&T have already shown, they can overcome their failings to push any team close. They will need another gutsy performance to upset NSW in this must-win game in Chennai, with the group, also including Chennai Super Kings, promising to be a tough one to qualify from.
New South Wales: Simon Katich (c), Stuart Clark, Pat Cummins, Nathan Hauritz, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Nic Maddinson, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Daniel Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Shane Watson
Trinidad and Tobago: Daren Ganga (c), Samuel Badree, Adrian Barath, Darren Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Rayad Emrit, Shannon Gabriel, Sherwin Ganga, Dave Mohammed, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, William Perkins, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul and Lendl Simmons
(With agency inputs)