Indian teams at the Champions League continued to come second best with Kolkata Knight Riders getting a pasting from Auckland Aces. It was Kolkata’s second straight loss, and now the IPL champions need to win their remaining matches to remain in the title hunt.
Veteran all-rounder Azhar Mahmood rolled back the years taking 3-16 in his full quota of overs and then making an unbeaten 51 as the Aces chased down 138 with enough time left in the game for a quick dinner.
It was Mahmood’s second brilliant all-round show of the tournament. He had taken 5-24 and scored an unbeaten 55 in the game against Hampshire in the qualifiers.
The 37-year-old Pakistani, now a British citizen, proved more than handy in helpful conditions. There was a little bit of help in the wicket for his brand of seam and swing. It fetched him the wickets of Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and Brendon McCullum, throwing Kolkata off gear after they had elected to bat.
Many years ago in similar cold and damp conditions, Mahmood had butchered a South African bowling attack for back-to-back Test hundreds. Today the bowling attack wasn’t half as threatening – particularly with Kolkata playing Shakib Al Hasan in Brett Lee’s place – but Mahmood navigated through the tricky batting conditions with ease.
His job was made easier by Lou Vincent’s breezy 12-ball 30. It allowed Mahmood to anchor down to take the game home.
Gautam Gambhir’s woeful form with the bat continued as he perished cheaply for five, thanks to a wonderful catch by Martin Guptil in the covers diving to his left. Manvinder Bisla and McCullum then got the innings going with a 62-run stand.
Mahmood then started his spell with a double-wicket maiden, and Kolkata never quite recovered from there on, losing wickets at regular intervals.