Deccan don't phase Langer
Somerset captain Justin Langer is not concerned about opening his side’s Twenty20 Champions League campaign against Indian Premier League champions Deccan Chargers.
The Group A rivals clash at the Chargers’ Hyderabad home on Saturday, ahead of respective games against Trinidad & Tobago.
Langer will come up against former Australia team-mate Adam Gilchrist, who led Deccan to IPL glory in May.
Somerset went close in all four 2009 domestic competitions, losing the final of the Twenty20 Cup to fellow Champions League qualifiers Sussex, and Langer believes that experience will benefit them in India.
“I’m glad that we are playing against Deccan Chargers first up actually,” said Langer. “They are the champions of IPL and a game against them would give us an indication of how close we are.
“We come from a very successful English summer and the confidence levels are high.
“The talent in the side is pretty good and, as long as we don’t panic in the big moments and keep our focus on the game, I don’t see why we cannot be successful.”
Tomorrow’s opening match sees Royal Challengers Bangalore take on South Africa’s Cape Cobras.
Bangalore batsman Rahul Dravid is excited by the multi-national aspect of the inaugural Champions League.
The tournament’s pioneer, IPL chairman Lalit Modi, has promised another extravagant affair, which has been preceded by unprecedented levels of hype for an inter-club tournament.
Whether the tournament rivals international cricket remains to be seen, but Dravid believes the lure of the Champions League lies in the challenge of the unknown and a rivalry with strangers.
“The challenge of the Champions League is that players come together from different parts of the world just a few days ahead of the tournament,” the India batsman said.
“Most of the teams have not played each other and the unknown factor is high. It is a challenge but it is also exciting to be up against players you have never played before.”
Delhi Daredevils are the other Indian team in the tournament, which also features South Africa’s Diamond Eagles, Australia’s Pura Cup rivals New South Wales Blues and Victoria Bushrangers, plus a team each from the West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
The Daredevils’ new captain Gautam Gambhir believes the IPL sides are at an advantage because of a superior knowledge of conditions, but Deccan coach Darren Lehman thinks the teams that succeed will be the ones that best handle the pressure.
“We have plenty of depth and quality so the conditions are not a concern,” Lehman said.
“We have to focus on our game rather than worry about who our opponents are and what they are thinking.”
While Bangalore’s South Africa star Jacques Kallis believes experience will be key, Trinidad and Tobago skipper Darren Ganga is hoping the all-rounders in his side can spearhead their campaign.
“We have some good all-rounders like Dwayne Bravo, Rayad Emrit and Lendl Simmons,” Ganga said.
“All-rounders are our strength and in Twenty20 games in conditions like these, multi-dimensional players are going to be very important.”
Diamond Eagles skipper Boeta Dippenaar, meanwhile, is banking on a team effort.
“We know we do not have many players in the side who have played at the international level but we click very well as a team,” said the Leicestershire batsman.
“That’s our strength and the underdog tag lends certainty in a tournament filled with uncertainties.
“We are up for the challenge.”