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Tourists test fortune in tricky Uppal ground

Hyderabad, or more precisely the Uppal stadium, has been the unluckiest of venues for the home team Deccan Chargers. But four other sides will be ready to test their fortune, and their fortitude, when they kick-start their Super Eight campaign of the Champions League in the city on Friday, reports Deepti Patwardhan.

cricket Updated: Oct 16, 2009 18:47 IST
Deepti Patwardhan

Hyderabad, or more precisely the Uppal stadium, has been the unluckiest of venues for the home team Deccan Chargers. But four other sides will be ready to test their fortune, and their fortitude, when they kick-start their Super Eight campaign of the Champions League in the city on Friday.

If the crowds were turning out only erratically for the home games, Trinidad and Tobago may have ensured an even lower turn-out for the future matches when they knocked out the Deccan Chargers with a three-wicket victory on Wednesday. So now Hyderabad is left with T&T, Somerset CCC, New South Wales Blues and Diamond Eagles.

Trinidad and Tobago clash with New South Wales while Somerset take on the surprise entrants from South Africa, the Diamond Eagles, in the first match on Friday.

Having topped their respective groups, T&T and New South Wales start with an advantage of two points and the winner of this match will almost certainly progress to the semifinals. Though New South Wales, boasting of a lot of current and former Australian internationals, started as one of the strongest teams on paper in the tournament, the West Indian side has charmed their way into the Indian hearts.

The catch is, Trinidad and Tobago started slight underdogs in both their group encounters - against Somerset and Deccan - and were able to express themselves freely. But now that they are being billed as one of the favourites, even by Deccan captain Adam Gilchrist, it will be interesting how they handle the pressure.

For Diamond Eagles, who got through in the most dramatic fashion, beating Sussex Sharks in the eliminator over, it has been a dream innings so far.

"We would like to think that we are the dark horse in the tournament," said captain Boeta Dippenaar on the eve of their match. "Somerset has some good players and we are aware that we will have to win both our matches here to make it to the semifinal. The team will depend on senior players like me and Morne van Wyk to get us through."

The Eagles captain said playing in Hyderabad would also be a welcome respite after struggling on a tricky "low" wicket in Delhi. Somerset, meanwhile, were the only team who did not take the nets on Thursday since they arrived in the city late on Thursday evening. They sneaked into the league stage after Trinidad's last-ball win over Deccan on Wednesday, and would carry a slight edge of experience over their South African rivals.