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Adjusting to cooler climes key for Mumbai Indians

Alviro Petersen, Neil McKenzie and Vaughan van Jarsveld are all I can make out of the Lions, opponents of the Mumbai Indians in the Champions League opener on Friday.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2010 01:23 IST
Ravi Shastri

Alviro Petersen, Neil McKenzie and Vaughan van Jarsveld are all I can make out of the Lions, opponents of the Mumbai Indians in the Champions League opener on Friday.

But by the end of September, you could have a few stars in the making. These young men have the example of Kieron Pollard to follow.

Pollard was a little-known entity before the inaugural Champions League catapulted him to the centrestage. So much so, he ended up being the highest-paid cricketer in the last IPL.

Fame, name, glamour and glitz are now part of him in Trinidad, his home in the Caribbean. This is the pull of cricket's uniquely global showpiece.

The Mumbai Indians look great on paper but then we know reputations count for little in T20. Remember how Trinidad and Tobago scythed through the competition last year even though they weren't bursting with big names.

The challenge for the Mumbai Indians, as indeed for the two other Indian teams, would be to acclimatize in the cold South African climate.

At this time of the year, there is uncommon assistance for the faster bowlers. The wickets will be damp and conditions heavy and it isn't going to get better under lights. It can be a great learning opportunity for young guns like Shikhar Dhawan and Saurabh Tiwary.

For regulars like Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, it will be a pre-cursor to their tour to South Africa in December with the India team. Zaheer's return is keenly awaited. He has suffered due to injury in recent months. His fitness is now critical in the lead-up to the World Cup for India's prospects.

The Mumbai Indians also have the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their group and it would be great to see two legends, Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, cross each other's path again. IPL winners Chennai Super Kings are in the other group but there are no easy pickings for them. Of all the venues, Port Elizabeth could be the least testing. But not so with Centurion and Johannesburg, both situated on the higher northern altitude, and Durban, where the breeze can make the soil beneath Kingsmead juicy under lights.

Good batting performances will be at a premium. It's a challenge that will certainly stir the spirit of a certain Sachin Tendulkar!