22 Sep 2009

Champions Trophy starts tonight

6:51 am on 22 September 2009

Cricket's second biggest 50-over event, the biennial Champions Trophy, begins in South Africa tonight, as the sport's top eight teams vie for glory.

The tournament was to have been held in Pakistan last year but was postponed and moved because of security concerns.

Two teams from two groups of four will form the semi-finals, with the final to be staged in Centurion on October 5th.

Hosts South Africa open the tournament against Sri Lanka, while New Zealand's first match is against South Africa on Thursday night... England are ther other team in the pool.

The other group consists of holders Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies.

South Africa, the world's number one side, have not been in competitive action since the ICC World Twenty20 in England in June but skipper Graeme Smith says his side is ready to make an impact.

Counterpart Kumar Sangakkara is in optimistic mood as his team look to win the trophy for the first time outright, having shared the title in 2002 when the final and the reserve day against India was washed out.