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Opening tests for MI & CSK

Calcutta/Johannesburg: Champions Mumbai Indians will face a tough challenge in the Highveld Lions, in their Champions League T20 opener, on Sunday.

Much of the focus will be on Sachin Tendulkar and captain Harbhajan Singh.

Sachin, whose last competitive game was the India-New Zealand Test in Bangalore earlier last month, will be keen to brush up his form before the upcoming Test series against England. Also, it is no secret that his form will be the key for the success of the Mumbai Indians on the testing South African tracks.

During the Test series against New Zealand, the Master faced quite a bit of criticism after he was castled by the inexperienced Black Caps pacers. Hence, the bouncy pitches of South Africa will provide him with the perfect stage to announce that he still has the technique of a champion.

For Harbhajan, much more will be at stake. True, he made a comeback in the Indian side during the World T20. But it’s a fact that Ravichandran Ashwin still remains Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s No.1 choice.

The CLT20 is therefore an opportunity for him to get the requisite confidence. If Harbhajan is successful in South Africa, it will be hard for the selectors to overlook him.

Rohit Sharma is another player who has a lot to prove: To the world and to himself as well. He has been getting the backing of Dhoni for quite sometime now.

But he has done little justice to that faith. The world goes gaga over his talent, but it’s time he complements that with some performance as well.

The day’s first match is between the Chennai Super Kings and the Sydney Sixers. But it is better to look at it as a contest between Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s tactics and Shane Watson’s awesome all-round skills.

After his Player of the Tournament-winning show at the World T20, it is no secret that having Watson in the side is half the battle won. But the Sixers’ job will not be that easy because Dhoni has a powerful side at his disposal.

In the form of his life, if Watson manages to keep fatigue at bay, he could well turn out to be the most valuable player in the event.

Led by Brad Haddin, the Big Bash champions are a decent line-up even though Watson would be their most crucial player with the bat. The captain, who is struggling to get back into the national fold after an injury layoff, would also be a key player for the side.