Champions League T20 2012 Finals 2012: Analyzing Highveld vs. Sydney

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2012

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRCA - OCTOBER 18:  Sydney Sixers captain Brad Haddin during the Karbonn Smart CLT20 match between bizbub Highveld  Lions (South Africa) and Sydney Sixers (Australia) at Sahara Park Newlands on October 18, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Carl Fourie / Gallo Images /Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

A packed house at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg will be treated to a fantastic final game in the Champions League T20 2012 on Sunday between South Africa's own Highveld Lions and the powerhouses from down under, the Sydney Sixers.

Sydney won each of their five matches in the tournament—including their four group stage games while Highveld won four of their five matches, only falling to Sydney by five wickets on October 16.

While the Sixers are the overwhelming favorites to emerge triumphant, the Lions are going to put up a fight and, with the home crowd behind them, have a chance to pull off the upset.

Let's take a look at each squad heading into this final game.



Highveld Lions

With the game being played at the Wanderers, Highveld has the advantage not only with the crowd, but in knowing the pitch and how the field plays.

Gulam Bodi, the team's opening batsman was the tournament's leading run scorer and Golden Bat with 202 runs scored. He also led the tournament with nine sixes, and it's imperative that he gets off to a good start against Sydney if the Lions have any chance of getting the win.

Neil McKenzie was second to Bodi in runs scored during the tournament with 176, and his 68 against the Mumbai Indians stands as the third highest individual total of the 2012 T20.

Quinton de Kock (103) and Jean Symes (89) were also among the top 20 run scorers in the tournament, and these four players will need to be at the top of their games and pace the Lions attack.

Left-hander Aaron Phangiso has been the Lions most reliable bowler for sure and is among the tournament leaders in a number of categories, including wickets (second with 10), average (second with an 8.90) and economy rates (third with a 4.45 mark).

The Lions need Phangiso to continue getting wickets and keep the Sixers relatively quiet in the middle-overs.

Aside from Phangiso, a pair of southpaws—Dirk Nannes and Sohail Tanvir—will be expected to keep things quiet when the fielding restrictions are in place, and their performances are key to the Lions' success.


Sydney Sixers

The Sixers are expected to be without Shane Watson once again, and his loss is not an insignificant one.

Most Man of the Match awards in international matches since Jan 2009: Shane Watson (20), Dilshan (18), Shahid Afridi (16), Virat Kohli (15).

Cricket (@T20ICricket) October 20, 2012


Since 2009, Shane Watson is the only player to have scored 5000 or more runs & taken 150-plus wkt in all Int'l cricket (6330 runs, 162 wkt).

— Cricket (@T20ICricket) October 20, 2012

But Sydney still has plenty of firepower in Michael Lumb, who has scored in every outing and ranks fifth in the competition with 144 runs scored.

Skipper Brad Haddin (96 runs), Moises Henriques (86) and Steve Smith (95) are also formidable with the willow in their hands.

Where the Sixers' real strength lies is with their bowlers: Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and the aforementioned Moises Henriques.

Starc took home the Golden Wicket with 13 wickets in the competition while Cummins delivered the fastest ball by far at a blistering 149.05 km/h.

Cummins not only had 12 of the 20 fastest balls in the tournament, but he picked up six wickets as well.




This is going to be a well-played match, but the Sixers bowlers will prove to be too maddening for the Lions bats to deal with, resulting in a Sydney victory by fewer than the five wickets they won by the last time these two clubs met.