Auckland 136-4 (Guptill 40, Kitchen 33no) beat
Sialkot 130-9 (Mills 2-6) by 6 wickets
CLT20 Qualifying Tournament, Pool 1, Johannesburg
Auckland found conditions to their liking in Johannesburg and used them with ruthless efficiency to dispatch Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions with almost three overs to spare in their opening Champions League T20 match.
Kyle Mills and Michael Bates benefited from Shoaib Malik's decision to bat first and found enough help from the pitch to restrict Sialkot to 11 for one after five overs. Each bowled just back of a length and cramped the batsmen for room, with Mills delivering three overs for four runs before coming back to bowl the penultimate over of the innings, clean bowling Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and having Bilawal Bhatti caught, and ending with figures of two for six from four overs - the best figures in the short history of the Champions League T20 tournament.
Sialkot tried to counter-attack on numerous occasions and hit 10 sixes during their innings, but only Shahid Yousuf made more than 20 with a combative 39 off 25 balls that was ended when he chipped a return catch to spinner Ronnie Hira. Hira also removed captain Shoaib Malik, but it was Andre Adams who was the talking point of the middle overs for Auckland.
Bowling off a short run-up but at not inconsiderable pace, he took two for 21 from his fours overs, as well as bowling a maiden, having Haris Sohail (12 off 19 balls) caught at point by Lou Vincent and Qaiser Abbas (five off seven) caught spectacularly by Colin de Grandhomme running back from mid-on.
Ali Khan hit a couple of lusty blows towards the end, but he was run-out in the final over and Sialkot could only limp to 130 for nine.
This was never going to be enough and so it proved as Lou Vincent and Martin Guptill came out swinging. They had put on 32 by the time Vincent was caught in the fourth over for 20 off 16 balls, with Guptill and new batsman Azhar Mahmood then adding a further 51 off 40 balls for the second wicket. Both fell in relatively quick succession - Guptill to Naved-ul-Hasan for 40 off 32 balls and Azhar to Sarfraz Ahmed for 24 off 23 - to give Sialkot hope, but Anaru Kitchen played fluently, hitting the first ball of the 18th over for six, to seal the win. He ended on 33 not out off 21 balls, with all-rounder Colin Munro unbeaten on 13 off eight.
In truth, Sialkot never came to terms with the conditions - something their captain admitted afterwards - and will now found it very hard to qualify for the tournament proper with their net run rate having taken such a hit. They must now beat Hampshire handsomely on Thursday and hope that other results go their way otherwise their maiden Champions League T20 will be over before it has even begun.
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