Mahmood blasts Auckland through, Hampshire out


Azhar Mahmood produced a remarkable all-round performance to send Auckland through to the main draw of the Champions League. His unbeaten 55 blazed Auckland’s trail to a target his 5 for 24 had ensured was paltry. Their second victory wrapped up Pool 1, with Hampshire and Sialkot now unable to qualify.
Despite their schedule in the qualifying tournament lasting two days, Auckland had spent two weeks in South Africa and their preparations proved worthwhile as they became the first New Zealand team to make the main draw of the Champions League. Mahmood benefited from bowling and batting at the right time. With the ball in the first innings, he was able to use a pitch that began a touch sticky to induce five loose shots, but the surface was more conducive to clean hitting in the second innings. Mahmood slammed four sixes in his 31-ball knock and became the fifth player to score fifty and take five wickets in a Twenty20. His performance handed Auckland a second victory at a canter. The target was largely conquered before Mahmood’s innings in a Powerplay where Auckland scored 50 for 1. Hampshire by contrast had limped to 29 for 3 in their first six overs. The difference was that Hampshire bowled too full. Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent filled their boots; Vincent disappointed to slap the final ball of the sixth over to extra cover, and Guptill hung his head after swinging Shahid Afridi to long on, both following entertaining innings.
But Azhar Mahmood ensured Auckland did not just meander to the target. He lifted Chris Wood over the leg side for his first six in the eighth over, and added further maximums with a slog sweep off Afridi and a heave over long-on and slap over extra cover against Liam Dawson – the second of which found the swimming pool. The match was a major anti-climax for Hampshire. In 2010, they announced a grand deal with Rajasthan to form a global franchise with clubs from other countries, setting up a travelling circus of money-spinning tournaments. But all that materialized of that deal was Hampshire becoming the “Royals,” in line with the Indian franchise.