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Match Report

CLT20 Desk in Mumbai

Match Report: M5 - Auckland Aces vs Kolkata Knight Riders

Azhar Mahmood comes good for Aces yet again

After breaking the backbone of the Kolkata Knight Riders batting line-up with three wickets, Azhar Mahmood returned to score an unbeaten 51 and lead the Auckland Aces to a resounding seven-wicket win. The 37-year-old former Pakistan all-rounder took three for 16 in a four-over spell that included the wickets of Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and Brendon McCullum, and then smashed the KKR bowlers during the run-chase to win his second Player of the Match award in two matches. The Auckland Aces, needing 138 for their first points in the Karbonn CLT20 2012, got past the finish line in 17.4 overs.

Faced with a modest asking rate of 6.90 runs per over, Lou Vincent and Martin Guptill set the platform for the run-chase with a blazing opening stand; the pair added 37 runs in two overs, before Vincent - after setting the tone for the run-chase - was dismissed off the bowling of Sunil Narine. He scored 30 in 12 balls and hit three boundaries and two sixes. Guptill scored a run-a-ball 25, before a miscued pull off the bowling of L Balaji landed in the hands of Sunil Narine.

Azhar Mahmood walked in to bat in the fourth over and started off in the old fashioned way – he scored his first 13 runs with the help of singles and twos. His first attempted big hit was caught by Pradeep Sangwan on the square-leg boundary; however, the fielder stepped on the ropes to give the 37-year-old his first six. He made the reprieve count as he would go on to score his 13th half-century in Twenty20 cricket. The Pakistan all-rounder hit three boundaries and two sixes in his match-winning knock.

Anaru Kitchen too played a useful hand; he scored 24 from 14 balls, before he was dismissed leg before wicket by Narine in the fifteenth over. Colin de Grandhomme was unbeaten on 9 when Azhar Mahmood scored the winning boundary off the bowling of Sangwan.

Not surprisingly, Narine was the pick of the KKR bowlers; the mystery bowler returned with figures of 2 for 24 from his four overs. Lakshmipathy Balaji, who put in a much-improved performance after the thrashing he received from the Delhi Daredevils, was the only other wicket-taker for the IPL champions.

Earlier in the evening, after opting to bat first, the Kolkata Knight Riders lost their captain in the second over; it took a brilliant catch from Martin Guptill to send the southpaw back to the dressing room. Though he played and missed on several occasions, Manvinder Bisla continued to chance his arm - but thankfully for KKR, it came good today. The 27-year-old, who got a life when on 15, improvised, played some powerful drives through cover and even muscled one over the square-leg fence in his 24-ball knock. He made 38 and dominated the second wicket partnership with Brendon McCullum.

When Bisla was dismissed in the ninth over, KKR were placed at 72 for 2 after nine overs, and looked set to post a competitive total. But in a matter of minutes, that changed to 72 for 4, after Azhar Mahmood dismissed Kallis and Tiwary off consecutive deliveries to push the IPL franchise on the back foot. Mahmood would return to dismiss the well-set McCullum in his third over. McCullum hit three boundaries and two sixes in his 35-ball 40 and would finish the top-scorer in the innings.

Shakib-al-Hasan struggled in his first outing – not hitting a single boundary in his 22-ball 15-run knock, while Yusuf Pathan (22) found the fence twice during his 19-ball stay at the crease. The Kolkata Knight Riders would eventually finish their twenty overs at 137 for 6 – at least thirty runs short of the score they looked like posting at one stage in the innings.

While Azhar Mahmood (3-16) was the pick of the Auckland Aces bowlers, Kyle Mills continued to bowl wonderfully to return with respectable figures of one for 23 from his four overs. Michael Bates and Ronnie Hira were the other wicket-takers for the Aces.

Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 137-6 in 20 overs (Brendon McCullum 40, Manvinder Bisla 38, Azhar Mahmood 3-16) lost to Auckland Aces 139-3 in 17.4 overs (Martin Guptill 25, Lou Vincent 30, Azhar Mahmood 51*, Sunil Narine 2-24) by 7 wickets.

Man of the Match: Azhar Mahmood, for his all-round performance; he took three KKR wickets in the evening and returned to score an unbeaten 51.

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