Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Udal Leads a Crusade to Capture [Pounds Sterling]2m Prize; Positive Spin: Shaun Udal Is Backing His Team to Cause a Shock or Two in India Next Month

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Udal Leads a Crusade to Capture [Pounds Sterling]2m Prize; Positive Spin: Shaun Udal Is Backing His Team to Cause a Shock or Two in India Next Month

Article excerpt

Byline: David Lloyd

MIDDLESEX will go into next week's history-making Champions League in Mumbai as rank outsiders to scoop a [pounds sterling]2million jackpot. And they couldn't be happier with their billing.

Even if England allow batsman Owais Shah to miss out on preparations for the First Test against India in order to rejoin his county for a few days, not many people will change tack and suddenly predict a triumphant march to the final for Middlesex Crusaders.

Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals and Mahendra Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings are joint-favourites ahead of an event that also includes two classy teams from Australia (Victoria Bushrangers and Western Warriors), a pair of South African contenders (Pretoria Titans and Natal Dolphins) and one dark horse out of Pakistan (Sialkot Stallions).

But, then, Middlesex were not given much of a chance in last summer's Twenty20 Cup, only to emerge as England's domestic champions and open up a whole new world for themselves.

"That's fine if people underestimate us," said captain Shaun Udal, whose team leave for India on Thursday. "No one fancied us and they were writing us off all the time, even before finals day.

Four teams went to the Rose Bowl and we were 11-1 outsiders, so being discounted suits us down to the ground." Having failed to make any decent progress in the first five seasons of

Twenty20 cricket, Middlesex could not have chosen a better time to get to grips with the shortest form of the game.

Beating Durham and then Kent at Southampton guaranteed the Crusaders a place at Sir Allan Stanford's Caribbean table last month.

And, even more appealing from a financial point of view, they booked a spot in the first Champions League; an eight-team, two-group tournament which Udal's men will help to launch a week tomorrow when playing Victoria in the opening game in Mumbai. …

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