Mahendra Singh Dhoni says the Chennai Super Kings will have to change tactics when they meet the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in Durban today. Chennai went in with three specialist spin bowlers for their must-win final Group A match against the Eastern Cape Warriors at St George’s Park on Wednesday.
It proved the right combination, as the Warriors, chasing a Chennai total of 136 for six, were restricted to 126 for eight on a slow, turning pitch. Chennai’s 10-run win put them top of the group on run rate, ahead of the Warriors and the Victorian Bushrangers.
The Warriors finished second and will meet Group B winners, the South Australian Redbacks, in Centurion tomorrow. The final is in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Dhoni said the spin option was unlikely to work at Durban’s seam-friendly Kingsmead. “Our fast bowlers will have to pull their socks up because the spinners won’t get so much turn there,” he said.
Dhoni said the all-Indian Premier League clash should be a “fantastic” game.
“We’ve done decently, but we’ve got quite a few weak links — there’s plenty to improve,” he said.
Although the spinners did well for Chennai on Wednesday, Australian batsman Mike Hussey was mainly responsible for the team posting a total they could defend. Opening the batting, Hussey made 50 off 39 balls.
He also held two catches, the first with a superbly timed leap on the boundary to dismiss Warriors captain Davy Jacobs, who top-scored with 32.
Hussey’s efforts denied his brother, Victoria captain David, a place in the semi-finals and a share of at least US$500,000 in prize money. The teams eliminated in the group stage take away US$200,000.
“I don’t think he’ll be too happy with me,” Mike Hussey said.
While there was disappointment for the Warriors, who lost their unbeaten record in the tournament, there was ample compensation in their qualification for the knock-out phase.
In a game within a game, the Warriors needed to score at least 109 to go ahead of Victoria on run rate. Even that looked problematic until veteran South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher hit two sixes off left-arm spinner Shakab Jakati in the 17th over.
When the Warriors passed the key score in the next over the Port Elizabeth crowd erupted as though their team had won the game. Although all their group games were played at St George’s Park, Jacobs said he was confident about changing venues to take on the Redbacks, the only side with a perfect record so far.
“We’ve played a lot at Centurion,” Jacobs said. “We enjoy playing there. We’ve got our plans, we’ll be ready.”
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