Qualifiers will be difficult: Brendon McCullum

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Mohali: Drama, intrigue, uncertainty, some blackmail -it's all building up very nicely even before the qualifying rounds of the CLT20 tournament have seen a ball bowled in anger at the PCA Stadium here. Earlier in the day, the Faislabad Wolves were turfed out of their hotel in neighbouring Chandigarh over visa issues and in the afternoon, it was the turn of Kandurata Maroons skipper Lahiru Thirimanne.
Not that he is involved in controversy -more his parent body , Sri Lanka Cricket -that virtually forced national skipper Kumar Sangakkara to choose between the Maroons and his IPL side the Hyderabad Sunrisers for this tournament.
Thirimanne though preferred to focus on the qualifiers, which get under way here on Tuesday . “We are a young team but some of our players are very experienced and that makes for a very good combination,“ he said at the pretournament media interaction.
The Maroons are here with Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath which will give then plenty of firepower, and Thirimanne said hefore leaving home that he was convinced this was the strongest Lankan team at the Champions League tournament ever.
About conditions in Mohali, the 24 year-old left-handed batsman said they were similar to those at home and gave them an edge in the qualifiers, particularly with seasoned spinners like Mendis and Herath.
For his part, Otago Volts captain Brendon McCullum agreed that with teams from the sub-continent in the running, it would not be an easy task for his men to get through to the main draw. “This is a tough qualifiers round. The teams are all good on paper. We know it is going to be tough for us to get past the qualifiers, but we also know that if we do make it to the main tournament, we will go with a good head start,” McCullum said here on the day.

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