Just champion: Mumbai celebrate their win over the Royals in the final of the 2013 ICC Champions League T20
The 2013 ICC Champions League Twenty20 (T20) came to a climax on Sunday, as the Mumbai Indians beat the Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs in Delhi. The tournament yet again showcased some of world cricket’s most outstanding exponents in this shorter format of the game, but which nation boasts the finest stars when it comes to T20 cricket?
Well, we are here to give you the definitive answer by power ranking those countries involved in the competition, starting with the weakest and concluding with the strongest, apart from England, who failed to send a competitor to take part due to a clash with the County Championship.
The Faisalabad Wolves, who were crowned champions of the 2012–13 Faysal Bank Super Eight T20 Cup, failed to make it out of the qualifying group after losing two of their three contests, making it a miserable tournament all-round as far as Pakistani cricket is concerned.
Of all 12 competing sides going into the 2013 Champions League T20, the Kandurata Maroons, winners of Sri Lanka’s 2013 Super 4’s Twenty20, had the worst record after failing to get out of the qualifying group following three defeats from three matches.
In fact, the only bright spot for Lankan cricket—and the reason they have finished just above subcontinental rivals Pakistan in the rankings—was the presence of left-handed opener Kusal Perera (pictured) in the final for the Royals, though the batsman’s innings lasted all of four balls before he was run out for eight.
Their one entrant in this season’s Champions League, the Otago Volts, who were crowned winners of their domestic HRV Cup this year, raised a few eyebrows after topping the qualification section with a 100 per cent winning record.
Brendon McCullum’s men were then desperately unlucky not to make it out of Group A and into the semi-finals after finishing level on 10 points with the Mumbai Indians and only losing one of their four matches, just to exit the competition on net run rate.
Not a competition to remember for either of South Africa’s two representatives, the Highveld Lions, who won the 2012–13 Ram Slam T20 Challenge, or the runners-up in that tournament, the Titans.
Neither franchise managed to make it out of their respective groups and into the semi-finals after winning a combined two matches out of eight, although surprisingly it was the less fancied Titans who did the better of the duo by recording wins over the Brisbane Heat and the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Group B.
However, after that, the only South African involvement in the Champions League came with the appearance of paceman Chris Morris (pictured) for the Chennai Super Kings in the semi-finals, though even that ended up with defeat, despite his impressive all-round showing with both bat and ball.
Again, like with the South African entrants, the two Australian teams found it desperately hard going in the group phase with both the winners of the 2013 Big Bash, the Heat, and the runners-up, the Perth Scorchers, failing to win a single match out of eight attempts.
But the Aussies did fare a little better when it came to the performances of their individual players in other non-Australian franchises, with six making it through to at least the semis.
Veteran former Australian international Mike Hussey opened the batting for Chennai, though the left-handed western Australian could not prevent his team from losing to the Royals in Friday’s first semi-final showdown.
Meanwhile, the likes of one-time Aussie cricketer Brad Hodge, as well as current stars Shane Watson and James Faulkner, all played key roles at one time or another in helping the Royals finish as runners-up in the tournament.
Facing them in Sunday’s denouncement in the Indian capital for Mumbai were current Aussie limited-overs players Glenn Maxwell and Nathan Coulter-Nile, with the former scoring a vital 37 from just 14 balls to give the Indians some key momentum late on in their innings (see above) before going on to even open the bowling with his off breaks.
The winners of the 2012-13 Caribbean Twenty20, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), caused a big surprise by topping Group B after winning three of their four matches, only to then be outclassed by Mumbai by six wickets in Saturday’s second semi-final.
However, the outstanding performances of a number of West Indian players for other franchises leaves the Calypso Kings in second place in the rankings, with five taking part in the semi-finals.
For the Super Kings, paceman Jason Holder and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo both enjoyed impressive campaigns, while Kevin Cooper was a runner-up with the Royals. However, the real stand-out displays came from opener Dwayne Smith and all-rounder Kieron Pollard (watch in action above) for the victorious Mumbai franchise.
The former top scored with 44 in the final, while the latter incredibly took the last three wickets of the whole competition in the space of just four balls to hand Mumbai the title.
With both finalists, as well as three of the four semi-finalists, and a plethora of stunning displays from their players throughout the tournament, there can be little doubt as to which nation are the current kings of the game.
And while it is perhaps unfair to pick out individual performances, two players from the losing finalists really caught the eye during the tournament: Royals opener Ajinkya Rahane, who was desperately unlucky to end up on the losing side, especially after his two batting shows in both the semi-final (see above) and final, and leg-spinner Pravin Tambe, who, at times during the course of the past two-and-a-half weeks, has been virtually unplayable.