AB v Albie in IPL qualifier
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Titans and Proteas team-mates AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel will almost certainly go head to head when the Indian Premier League last-four phase begins in Mumbai on Tuesday.
De Villiers’s table-topping Royal Challengers Bangalore, coached by another familiar South African in Ray Jennings, play Morkel’s second-placed Chennai Super Kings in “qualifier one”, with the winner automatically going through to Saturday’s final in Chennai.
The loser has to be in action again on Friday in qualifier two, against the winner of a prior “eliminator” on Wednesday between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, who finished third and fourth respectively in the ordinary season.
De Villiers may just be the only South African turning out for Bangalore on Tuesday, as veterans Charl Langeveldt and Johan van der Wath have made only sporadic appearances for the franchise this season.
At least De Villiers has played in 13 of the Challengers’ 14 league games, scoring 262 runs at an average of 37.42, although like so many other batsmen in the IPL he has been rather upstaged by team-mate Chris Gayle, incredibly averaging 85, boasting the most tournament runs (511) and smashing the ball to all parts.
In the opposite camp, potentially explosive all-rounder Morkel also sports 13 appearances; he has hit a few trademark massive sixes but not yet managed an innings above 30.
But he still does regular upfront bowling duty for the Super Kings, and has bagged 15 wickets at an average of 21 (economy rate 8.36).
Wednesday’s eliminator will feature the ever-dependable Jacques Kallis for the Knight Riders: he has rattled up 417 runs at 37.90, including four half-centuries – he is in decent nick as his last knock was 59 off 42 balls against the very same opponents they now face again, Mumbai Indians, in a thrilling last-delivery defeat on Sunday.
Kallis lies eighth on the list of top run-scorers at IPL 2011.
Port Elizabeth-born fellow all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate (although he plays internationally for the Netherlands) may accompany Kallis in the Knight Riders’ line-up; he has had five IPL games thus far.
There is probably only an outside chance that the Mumbai Indians will field Warriors favourite Davy Jacobs in the encounter; he has had six games and registered 92 runs at a modest 15.33.