After losing in their second straight IPL final in May, Chennai Super Kings could perhaps be given the mantle of nearly-men. But in the T20 Champions League, they are a different animal, and it would take some guts to oppose the 5/2 favourites here.
With the event set to take place in India, it would make sense to focus on the host nation’s representatives, with Chennai and Mumbai looking a class above.
The Super Kings are led by MS Dhoni, and with 345 caps for India in all forms of the game, there are few other men better to lead a side into such a competitive competition.
Chennai aren’t restricted by just one experienced head however. In Mike Hussey, they have one of the most consistent batsmen in the world.
Factor in the bowling attack of Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo and exciting youngster Mohit Sharma, it is easy to see CLT20’s winning-most team (eight wins from 14 matches) delivering again and regain the trophy they won in 2010.
The side that beat them back in May to claim the 2013 IPL, Mumbai Indians are second in the market, priced at 7/2. Rahul Dravid’s side were victorious the last time the competition was held on the sub-continent, and are likely to put up a strong challenge again.
They will however, have to do it without explosive bowler Lasith Malinga. The curly haired pace man is absent due to personal reasons, as well as Ricky Ponting who has been dropped after a disappointing IPL. Add in the fact that Sachin Tendulkar, for all his mastery, is approaching the twilight of his career, opposing Mumbai may be the way to go.
India’s other two representatives are slightly behind the market leaders in terms of quality, but cannot be totally ruled out. Rajasthan will need to perform with more consistency than they showed in the IPL, and Sunrisers Hyderabad still have to qualify for the tournament proper. Nevertheless with Shane Watson and Dale Steyn in their squads, they cannot be dismissed out of hand.
But with the possibility of avoiding all three of the other Indian teams in the group stages, it is MS Dhoni’s Super Kings that look primed to go all the way and lift the trophy in Delhi.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing