Whatever data you want to look at, it all points to the Highveld Lions being the rank underdogs when they open the Champions League T20 cricket game against the Mumbai Indians at the Wanderers Friday.
But that’s just the way they want it.
“Obviously it is a big game for us, being the opening game and everything, and they obviously have a lot more experience than us. But whether you’ve played 100 Tests or one provincial game, all that matters is what you bring on the day. We don’t care about the opposition, we are a young team and we will play for each other and play as a unit,” Lions captain Alviro Petersen said Thursday.
The Mumbai Indians boast the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, West Indian all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, JP Duminy, Indian bowling stars Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan and Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga.
But only four of those will be able to take the field in accordance with IPL rules and that, as well as the Lions’ home-ground advantage, will even matters out a bit.
“I would think all the pressure is on the Mumbai Indians, they are one of the clear favourites. But I like it that way, we can just play our natural game, and I like it when people write us off. No one’s expecting anything from us and we showed in last year’s Pro20 domestic tournament that all that matters is what we do on the day and whether we play as a team,” Petersen said defiantly.
In fact, such is the confidence in the Lions camp that Petersen is already talking about getting video footage of the Victoria, Wayamba and Central Districts sides, non-IPL teams that the Lions can only meet in the semi-finals.
How the Lions handle the nerves of the big occasion on Friday night will also be a telling factor, but journeyman swing bowler Cliffe Deacon said he welcomed the idea of being nervous.
“Nerves are a funny thing, it’s always good to have some heading into a game. Just being totally laid back is not a good thing.
“We put pressure on ourselves and that gives us confidence to go up against these big names like you get in the Mumbai Indians,” he said. —Supersport