Scorecard | Yorkshire beat Uva | Qualifiers
Kyle Mills' miserly four-over spell ensured Auckland Aces would start their Champions League Twenty20 qualifying campaign on a winning note against Sialkot Stallions at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday night.
Stallions came into their first-ever Champions League Twenty20 with an awe-inspiring and enviable domestic Twenty20 record, which includes a world-record winning streak of 25 matches. However, the Shoaib Malik-led team failed to come to terms with the bounce and seam movement on the Wanderers track; and though Auckland's bowlers stuck to their task, the Stallions' batsmen contributed to their downfall with bad shot selection. The questionable shot selections came into play because there were as many as 66 dot deliveries in the Stallions' innings (24 in the first five overs) as the batsmen either played all over the delivery or failed to find gaps in the field.
Stallions' total of 130 for 6 was never going to be enough to challenge Auckland's batsmen and despite a tricky middle period in the chase, the team from New Zealand eased home with six wickets and 17 deliveries to spare.
Malik's decision to bat first backfired from the beginning as Michael Bates had Shakeel Ansar caught at mid-on in the second over of the match; and No. 3 batsman Haris Sohail took 12 deliveries to get off the mark. Sohail (12) and opening batsman Imran Nazir (17) were dismissed within five deliveries of each other as Stallions slipped to 30 for 3 in the eighth over. Shahid Yousuf, who hit three boundaries and three sixes in his 25-ball 39, then added 57 runs for the fourth wicket with Malik before Ronnie Hira caught him off his own bowling. Hira also dismissed Malik as Stallions' innings continued to amble on without gaining any momentum.
Kyle Mills had dream figures of 4-1-6-2; with Andre Adams and Hira also taking two wickets each while Bates and Azhar Mahmood chipped in with a wicket each.
Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent played shots from the start to ensure Auckland wouldn't stumble chasing Stallions' under-par score. Vincent was the more aggressive of the pair hitting three boundaries and a six in his 16-ball 20 before Bilawal Bhatti gave Stallions a much-needed breakthrough as Auckland had raced to 32 inside four overs.
Guptill (40 from 32 deliveries) and Mahmood then ensured the early momentum wouldn't be lost as they added 51 runs for the second wicket before the New Zealand opening batsman holed out to Bhatti at deep square leg off Naved-ul-Hasan's bowling. Stallions had a brief glimmer of hope after Guptill's dismissal and when left-arm fast-medium bowler Sarfraz Ahmed dismissed Mahmood and Colin de Grandhomme in the 14th over with Auckland still needing 34 runs to win.
But, Anaru Kitchen (33* from 21 deliveries) and Colin Munro (13*) knocked off the remaining runs in a hurry to ensure Auckland would get the deserved win and inch closer to qualifying for the main draw of the tournament. Stallions now face a must-win situation against Hampshire on Thursday night to keep their qualification hopes alive.