KEDAH are the favourites to lift the Malaysian Cricket Premier League title this weekend though Kuala Lumpur will be looking to upset the form book in the semi-finals at the Kinrara Oval today.
With a powerful batting and bowling line-up, only dramatic loss of form could prevent Kedah from advancing to tomorrow's final against either Armed Forces or Perak at Kinrara.
Having gone through their five matches in Group A unbeaten, Kedah start as favourites against KL, who have called in reinforcements from Singapore to strengthen their line-up.
Wicketkeeper Tim Lamb has left due to a prior commitment and his place behind the wicket will be taken over by Singapore wicketkeeper-batsman Chetan Suryawanshi.
KL also plan to field the experienced Chaminda Ruwan from Singapore, a right-handed batsman and right-arm fast-medium bowler, who will be a valuable addition to a team who can also rely on the guile of national captain Suresh Navaratnam.
"It's going to be a tough match. We are practically playing against Test-material players.
"If we win, it will be our greatest achievement and we certainly have to play our best," said KL team manager Balakrishnan Nair in attempting to downplay his side's chances.
Kedah do have a strong bowling unit in Rao Iftikar Anjum, Saad Altaf, Bilal Asad and Bazid Khan and their ranks are further bolstered by national players Suhan Kumar Alagaratnam, Ahmad Faiz Mohammad Noor, Shafiq Sharif and Hammad Ullah Khan.
In the other semi-final, Forces start as slight favourites at the Royal Selangor Club in Bukit Kiara after finishing top of Group B unbeaten though Perak will be no pushovers despite lacking big-name players.
Forces are coming off a group win over KL in which Suharril Fetri Shuib notched a half-century.
Besides Suharril, Forces also have several national players including Norwira Zazmie Halim, Ariffin Ramly, Anwar Arudin, Rashid Ahad and Syazrul Ezat Idrus.
S-FINALS -- Today: Kedah v Kuala Lumpur (Kinrara Oval), Armed Forces v Perak (Royal Selangor Club);
FINAL -- Tomorrow: Kedah/KL v Forces/Perak (Kinrara Oval). By Devinder Singh