Opportunity will be the buzzword when Otago Volts face off against Perth Scorchers in the first match of a double-header on Wednesday (September 25) at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
Otago have come up the hard way, making it through the qualifying phase and winning all their matches in impressive fashion. Perth, who were runners-up to Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League, are without a host of first-choice players - some injured and some doing duty for IPL franchises. For that reason, both sides are relatively less fancied in Group A which also has heavyweights such as Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Highveld Lions.
However, given the format and with the weather continuing to be unpredictable, both sides will be upbeat about their chances and they know that stringing together a couple of good performances could well land them a semifinal spot.
Both teams were at the receiving end of a washout in Ahmedabad on Monday against different opponents. Perth will thus come into this match without any match practice, though Brad Hogg, the left-arm spinner, and Tom Triffitt, the wicketkeeper, were confident the side was well prepared, what with a camp in Darwin before coming to India and practice matches in Ahmedabad that Triffitt said "was a great hit out for all our guys".
Perth certainly didn't display any rustiness in their practice session on Tuesday, a long one that was full of banter, good cheer and energy. Hogg, who at 42 is leading the veterans' brigade in the CLT20, will be on a homecoming mission of sorts, having been part of Rajasthan Royals for a while.
The Perth squad has a mix of youth and experience with Hogg, Simon Katich, the captain, and Marcus North lending the weight of experience and the likes of Ashton Agar, Triffitt, Ashton Turner and Hilton Cartwright barely out of their teens.
Otago, by contrast, look more settled, and have several player of proven Twenty20 quality in their ranks, with Brendon McCullum, the captain, leading the way. McCullum has been in fine form in the qualifiers and is likely to be the most dangerous batsman on either side. In Ryan ten Doeschate, Otago have a quality allrounder, who has already won them a match against Kandurata Maroons almost by himself.
The young James Neesham, who bats left-handed and bowls right-arm medium pace, had a great season in New Zealand for Otago in the HRV Cup, and has already impressed in the CLT20 qualifiers, while Nathan McCullum, Brendon's brother, remains a threat.
Otago turned up at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday even though they weren't scheduled to have a practice session, and did some light training. The session was more of a fine-tuning one given Monday's washout.
Hogg wasn't underestimating the threat that Otago posed, but insisted Perth were "up for the challenge" with the younger squad members in particular, keen to grab their opportunities.
"I think it's a very evenly balanced game tomorrow," said Hogg. "The New Zealand team is a very solid side and it's got some international players in it. We're up for the challenge, and that's what we're here for. These youngsters have trained hard, they want to play for Australia eventually, and if they want to reach that milestone, well they've got to step up and learn quickly. And what better lesson than playing against international players very early on in their careers?"
Perth Scorchers: Simon Katich (capt), Ashton Agar, Michael Beer, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Burt Cockley, Liam Davis, Brad Hogg, Joe Mennie, Marcus North, Joel Paris, Tom Triffitt (wk), Ashton Turner, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman.
Otago Volts: Brendon McCullum (capt), Nicholas Beard, Michael Bracewell, Neil Broom, Ian Butler, Mark Craig, Derek de Boorder (wk), Jacob Duffy, James McMillan, James Neesham, Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Ryan ten Doeschate, Neil Wagner.