CLT20 Desk in Mumbai
Match Report – Q2: Auckland Aces vs Sialkot Stallions
Mills, Guptill star in Auckland’s six-wicket win
The Auckland Aces brought an end to the Sialkot Stallions’ nine-match winning streak after they beat Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 champions by six wickets in the second match of the Karbonn CLT20 2012 Qualifiers. After restricting the Stallions to 130 for nine, the Auckland Aces crossed the finish line in 17.1 overs, losing only four wickets in the process. The victory marked the first time a team from New Zealand had won a match in the CLT20
Faced with a modest asking rate of 6.55, the Auckland Aces got off to a flier with Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent adding 32 runs in 3.3 overs, before the latter was dismissed. Guptill lived up to his reputation of being a dangerous batsman at the top of the innings and of being the man in form as he got after the Stallions’ bowling attack; he scored 40 off 32 balls and hit five boundaries and a six, before an attempted pull led to him getting caught at the midwicket boundary.
Though No.3 batter Azhar Mahmood (24) and Colin Grandhomme perished in quick succession, the foundation for the win had been laid by the two opening batsmen. Anaru Kitchen, who walked in to bat at No.4, duly did the honours along with Colin Munro and helped their team to four points. Kitchen in particular played an enterprising knock; while he began slowly by nudging the ball into the gaps and running ones and twos, once he had his eye in, he opened up his shoulders and hit two fours and two sixes – including the hit that took the team past the finish line. He remained unbeaten on 33 (21 balls), while Munro scored 13 of eight balls.
Though the Sialkot Stallions’ bowlers bowled well in patches, they did not have enough sting in their arsenal to maintain pressure; and they did not have enough runs on the board to defend on this particular evening either. The 20-year-old left-arm spinner Raza Hasan – who was outstanding in the ICC World Twenty20 – was impressive yet again, conceding only 20 runs in his four overs. Sarfraz Ahmed returned the most successful bowler for his team with two wickets. Bilawal Bhatti and Naved-ul-Hasan Rana chipped in with a wicket each.
Earlier in the evening, after opting to bat first, the Sialkot Stallions’ innings never really got going. And that was primarily the result of an incredible spell of fast bowling from Kyle Mills who would go on to finish with figures of 4-1-6-2 – the most economical completed spell of bowling in CLT20 history. Pitching the ball short of length regularly, Mills extracted all the assistance that was available in the pitch and would beat the bat a number of times to eventually finish with eighteen dot deliveries in a four-over spell. The only batsman in the Stallions’ line-up who could dominate the Auckland Aces bowlers was Shahid Yousuf, who scored 39 off 25 balls (including three boundaries and three sixes).
Sialkot Stallions’ skipper Shoaib Malik and Ali Khan contributed 19 runs each, while the dashing opener Imran Nazir scored 17 off 15 balls.
With Kyle Mills keeping things quiet at one end, his teammates earned rewards too as the batsmen attempted to take chances. Andre Adams returned with respectable figures of two for 21 from four overs – despite being hit for two sixes, while left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira too picked up two wickets – although he came in for some stick and conceded 36 runs in his four-over spell. Michael Bates and Azhar Mahmood too chipped in with a wicket each.
Brief scores: Sialkot Stallions 130/9 in 20 overs (Shahid Yousuf 39, Kyle Mills 6/2, Adams 21/2) lost to Auckland Aces 136/4 in 17.1 overs (Guptill 40, Kitchen 33*, Sarfraz Ahmed 2/31)
Man of the Match: Kyle Mills of the Auckland Aces for his miserly spell of 4-1-6-2.