Gladiators, Bulls look to start maiden season in style!
Deccan Gladiators to win!
Since the inception of the T10 League in 2017, we've seen new teams enter the competition each season. This year is no different as the Deccan Gladiators and Delhi Bulls are ready to initiate themselves into the competition.
With the World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan as their leader, the Bulls do have a strong man at the helm and their squad also has a good mix in there.
On the other hand, the Gladiators are led by Shane Watson and despite not appearing as flamboyant on paper, theirs is also a reasonably effective squad. The ongoing West Indies-Afghanistan series means that the players from the respective sides won't be available for this clash and that's a dent, given how effective the players from these sides are in the shortest formats.
Led by one of the greats as far as shorter formats are concerned, the Gladiators have a lot of firepower in there. While they will miss the services of Kieron Pollard and Sheldon Cottrell for this encounter, the likes of Mohammad Shahzad and skipper Watson form a deadly opening combination that's followed by proven hitters like Ben Cutting, Anton Devcich and Chanderpaul Hemraj. Latest Lankan sensation Bhanuka Rajapaksa is another exciting talent to watch out for as far as the batting department is concerned. As you can see, there is a lot of power in that line-up and on their day, it can cause havoc.
The bowling department is also quite effective with leg spinners Mason Crane and Fawad Ahmed, left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and left-arm wrist spinner Zahir Khan being the notable wicket-takers in the line-up. Watson, Devcich and Cutting can all chip in with the ball if needed and this gives the team enviable balance and depth. As a team, this is their first season in the T10 League and their fortunes will depend on how well they can gel as a unit because the potential is definitely there in this squad. Death bowling options are less, with only Cottrell appearing a challenge and he isn't available for this clash.
S Watson (c), M Shahzad (wk), B Cutting, A Devcich, C Hemraj, B Rajapaksa, A Ali, M Crane, F Ahmed, Z Khan, T Mills
Ben Cutting, Zahir Khan, Dan Lawrence, Anton Devcich, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Mason Crane, Zahoor Khan, Fawad Ahmed, Migael Pretorius, M Shahzad, SR Watson
Like their opponents, the Bulls are also in their first season. With Morgan as their skipper, you can expect them to be tactically sound and his style of play means that it could rub off on his mates too. There is a cloud hanging over the participation of contracted Pakistan players in the T10 League and the Bulls are likely to be affected a lot, given that Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir and Aamer Yamin in their ranks. They are also missing Sherfane Rutherford and Mohammad Nabi due to national duties.
Therefore, it's a relatively weaker side on paper and it remains to be seen how they can punch above their weight.
In the batting department, Kusal Perera and Paul Stirling will be the key men who will have to support Morgan in the department while young Dutch star Tobias Visee is also a gamechanger.
The bowling is quite thin with former India pacer Zaheer Khan being the spearhead of the unit that otherwise is short on experience. There is a wicket-taking option in leg spinner Adil Rashid and Ali Khan but that's about it. They will have to rely on some of the fringe players for this clash, especially with the absence of key players. The probable absence of Pakistani players only adds to their woes.
P Stirling, K Perera, E Morgan, S Malik, T Visee, S Rutherford, M Usman, W Ahmed, A Rashid, Z Khan, A Khan
Dushmantha Chameera, Ravi Rampaul, Eoin Morgan, Kusal Perera, Z Khan, Muhammad Usman, AU Rashid, Paul Stirling, Angelo Mathews, Ali Khan, David Willey
The Abu Dhabi stadium is generally known to provide sporting surfaces but in a format as short as T10, expect batsmen to make merry. At the same, bowlers who are smart will get rewards. This is the second game of the evening at the ground and on a used surface, it could play a bit slower although the track won't change much over a 20-over match. Weather is expected to be pleasant with middling levels of humidity.
Sheikh Zayed stadium is one of the premier cricketing venues in Abu Dhabi and will be hosting the entire T10 League this year.
The probability of a used surface could tempt the captain winning the toss to bat first but in T10 games, the track hardly changes over a game and it's preferable to chase as knowing the target helps in this madcap format.
The Bulls have a weakened squad due to a variety of reasons and time is running out for them to plug the hole. They should be better once Rutherford and Nabi return but for this clash, they seem very thin on paper. Therefore, it's the Gladiators who are overwhelming favorites for this clash.
Deccan Gladiators to win!