Fans of cricket's shortest format across the country will be delighted -- the Champions League T20 will come to India in September and and go all the way across to October. In 2013 the tournament was played in India as well with Mumbai Indians clinching the title.
The tournament will be staged from 13 September to 4 October. Qualifying matches will be contested before the Group stage commences. Venues for the tournament are Mohali, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Raipur. The finalists will square-off against each other in Bangalore.
IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders will go up against two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the opening group stage encounter on 17 September at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. CSK were winners of this tournament in 2010.
The tournament, the sixth edition, shall see 29 games contested by the participating teams. Ten sides will be seen in the Group stage. The teams have been split up into two groups, namely A and B.
Gautam Gambhir's KKR and India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's CSK are in Group A. South Africa's domestic T20 Ram Slam champions Sunfoil Dolphins are in the same group. These three aside Australia's Perth Scorchers, Big Bash winners, and a qualifier complete Group A.
The Scorchers will be without left-hander Simon Katich, who recently retired from T20 cricket. Katich was the Western Australian domestic T20 franchise's skipper.
The other group will comprise of the victor in the Caribbean Premier League, South Africa's Cape Cobras (second in the Ram Slam), the IPL's King's XI Punjab and Australia's Hobart Hurricanes, the losing finalist in the Big Bash.
Interestingly, George Bailey skippered both the Hurricanes and King's XI in the respective domestic T20 leagues of Australia and India. Which team does he opt for remains to be seen. Doubtless Sunil Narine, if Guyana Amazon Warriors win the Caribbean Premier League, will face the same problem.
Each side will play each other from their respective groups with the top two from Group A and Group B respectively going into the semifinals.
There are four qualifying teams. Pakistan Lahore Lions are qualifier 1, Mumbai Indians are qualifier 2, New Zealand's Northern Knights are qualifier 3 and Southern Express from Sri Lanka are qualifier 4.
Lahore Lions or Northern Knights will be entrants in Group A if either one of these teams enter the group phase. Group B will see Mumbai Indians or Southern Express participate if any one of these franchises enter the Group stage
In the event Lahore Lions and Northern Knights both qualify for the group stage then Lahore will be in Group A and Northern Knights in Group B. If the other two franchises Mumbai Indians and Southern Express make their way into the group stage then Mumbai will find a place in Group B and Southern Express in Group A.
"The CLT20 Governing Council has confirmed the teams that will compete for a total prize money of US $6 million," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told the CLT20 website.
The Chhattisgarh State Cricket Sangh president Baldev Singh Bhatia was pleased to learn that Raipur would play host to some of the matches.
"This is a huge achievement for Chhattisgarh cricket. No affiliate or associate member had hosted an IPL game till we did so last year. And now the BCCI has entrusted us with bigger responsibility by allotting the most number of matches, including those of the visiting team from Pakistan," ESPNCricinfo quoted Bhatia as saying.
Group A: Kolkata Knight Riders, Dolphins, Perth Scorchers, Chennai Super Kings and one of the top two teams from the Qualifiers.
Group B: Kings XI Punjab, Cape Cobras, Hobart Hurricanes, Caribbean Premier League T20 champions, and one of the top two teams from the Qualifiers.
Qualifier: Lahore Lions, Mumbai Indians, Northern Knights, Southern Express.
Get the full schedule for CLT20 2014 HERE