|India’s Suresh Raina will play for the Chennai Super Kings in the tournament in South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]|
With cricket reeling from match-fixing allegations, the Champions League Twenty20 tournament will be played under strict anti-corruption controls amid hopes the gloom surrounding the sport will be lifted.
The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit will be on red alert when 10 teams compete in South Africa for the title in the two-week tournament from Friday.
They will be joined by a local security firm and extra-vigilant ground officials, organisers said.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is represented by the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore – all big-spending outfits with an array of international stars.
Australia has the South Australian Redbacks and Victorian Bushrangers, and the host nation will field the Warriors and Highveld Lions.
New Zealand domestic champions Central Stags, Sri Lanka’s Wayamba Elevens and Guyana of the West Indies complete the lineup.
Only Bangalore, Victoria and Wayamba played in the inaugural event in India last year.
Pakistan and England are not represented.
Vuvuzelas will not make an appearance either, after the Champions League was the latest sporting event to ban the plastic horns made famous at South Africa’s football World Cup.
Star-studded Chennai, the 2010 IPL champions, are led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and have batsmen Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey of Australia and India’s Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina.
Big-hitting Albie Morkel and Justin Kemp will add local knowledge, and the bowling will feature Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker, Muttiah Muralitharan.
The team is heavily favoured to qualify for the semifinals from Group A ahead of the Warriors, Victoria, Wayamba and Central Stags.
“Chennai Super Kings have an amazing squad. Now, it is our responsibility to deliver,” Vijay said.
Meanwhile Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria has been cleared by Essex police of betting during an English county match last season, his lawyer said.
“The police have cleared Danish as they didn’t find any concrete evidence to support the allegations,” Furqan Anwar told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
Kaneria, who has played 61 Tests and taken 261 wickets, was questioned by police investigating allegations two Essex players placed bets on their Pro40 match against Durham last September.
Pakistan cricket was hit by a spot-fixing and betting scandal this month when three players – Test captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif – were provisionally suspended by the ICC for their alleged involvement in the scam.
Scotland Yard and the ICC anti-corruption unit are investigating the case and all three have been questioned at Kilburn police station in London.