Nothing less than a win will do for Cape Cobras and Trinidad & Tobago when they clash on Tuesday in their last Champions League Twenty20 match of group A, which is poised tantalisingly with all five teams still in with a chance of making it to the knockout stage.
Presciently dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ prior to the start of the tournament, group A heads into its final round of matches with no team still assured of a semifinal berth.
Topping the group And with a foot already in the last four stage are Mumbai Indians, who have overcome a debilitating injury situation to be at the forefront with five points. Next up is Australian side New South Wales Blues with four points, followed by Cobras with three.
T&T, who claimed the giant scalp of local favourites and defending champions Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, are in the fourth place with two points.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK, also on two points, bring up the rear by virtue of an inferior net run rate.
If the Cobras, who have only one win against New South Wales and a no result so far, win on Tuesday they will move to five points and may eke their way to the semis by virtue of a better net run rate than Mumbai Indians, who despite being group leaders have the worst net run rate among the lot.
NSW too will progress as group winners with six points if the Australian side win in their crucial match against CSK on Tuesday.
However, a defeat on Tuesday to either Cobras or NSW, will ensure Mumbai’s progression to the semifinal, while forming a three-way tie among NSW, CSK and T&T — all with four points each, meaning the calculation will come down to run rate.
T&T, on the other hand, will have to beat Cobras and hope NSW lose to CSK to stand any chance of entering the semis. Any other result and they would be eliminated.
As things stand, T&T have the second-best net run rate in the group At +0.183, while Cobras have the best net run rate at +0.443.
Their crucial encounter on Tuesday at the slow Chepauk pitch will be a test of application for batsmen and a challenge for bowlers to extract bounce and turn from it in order to eke out a favourable result.
Cobras captain Justin Kemp will hope his experienced batting outfit comprising Herschelle Gibbs, J P Duminy and Owais Shah, who have more than 300 domestic T20 matches among them, will be able to counter the slow pitch and build on starts.
The Cobras batsmen did not get a go in their previous group match, which was abandoned due to rain after Mumbai had made 176/5 in 20 overs.
Kemp will also rely on pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who has had an ordinary campaign so far, and spin options Duminy and Robin Peterson to restrict the Caribbean side.
T&T captain Daren Ganga, on the other hand, will look upto his young off-spinner Sunil Narine to deliver the goods once again against Cobras.
The 23-year old Narine has been a revelation in the series, taking nine wickets at an economy rate of 4.30.
The onus will also be on West Indian pacer Ravi Rampaul — the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 11 wickets — to threaten the Cobras batsmen and ensure they are not off to a flier.
Cape Cobras: Justin Kemp (Capt.), JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Richard Levi, Johann Louw, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Andrew Puttick, Michael Rippon, Owais Shah, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas.
Trinidad and Tobago: Daren Ganga (Capt.), 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.