Auckland eliminated after failing to chase 141


Auckland Aces needed to win their last group game to stay in contention for a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. They didn’t do it. Their bowlers did their bit, by restricting Perth Scorchers to a par score on a two-paced pitch, but their batsmen started too slowly and, once there was a slump, the ground conceded was too expansive to recover. Titans were watching Auckland crash out of the competition from the stands in Centurion, and began their warm-ups for the evening game knowing their semi-final berth, and that of their opponents Delhi Daredevils, was safe. Auckland struggled to get away to a swift start in their pursuit of 141. The Perth quicks bowled tight lines and lengths and Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent took few risks. They had scored only nine in the first three overs. The rising asking rate eventually led to Vincent charging and slashing at Ryan Duffield, and edging to the keeper. Auckland were 12 for 1 after 3.5 overs.
Guptill was joined by Auckland’s MVP, Azhar Mahmood, and together they put the chase back on track. Mahmood swept, cut and drove Paul Collingwood to the boundary in the eighth over and Guptill pulled and slog-swept Brag Hogg’s chinaman offerings for a four and a six. At 61 for 1 after nine overs, Auckland were on course, when Guptill had a brain fade. He charged the left-arm spinner Michael Beer, and though he was beaten by flight and turn, he went through with his slog and nicked to Luke Ronchi. Beer took out Mahmood in his next over, caught by a diving Herschelle Gibbs at cover. Those wickets slowed Auckland down again and they managed only 31 runs between the 10th and 16th overs. There was a spark of hope when Colin Munro helped Auckland take 15 runs off the 17th over from Nathan Coulter-Nile, but that was snuffed out quickly. Beer finished with 3 for 13 and was supported by Joe Mennie, who’s dismissal of Munro was the end of the contest. When the game began, however, Auckland were full of hope despite being without the injured Andre Adams and losing the toss. Perth, who were already out of the competition, had left out the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, for reasons unknown.
Perth were only 30 for 1 at the end of the fielding restrictions and Marcus North and Simon Katich went about infusing the innings with momentum. North charged and swung the spinner Ronnie Hira over wide long-on for the innings’ first six in the tenth over, and Katich added a boundary two balls later. Fifteen runs came off that Hira over but it ended with North being run out by a direct hit from Mills. Katich was bowled by Hira’s next ball, in the 12th over, and Perth had new batsmen in Paul Collingwood, playing his first game, and Tom Beaton at the crease. Collingwood batted busily, finding the boundary regularly, and Beaton laid into Colin de Grandhomme with slogs over and through midwicket. The run rate had touched seven an over at the end of the 16th and Perth were well placed for an aggressive finish. Michael Bates and Mahmood, however, were on target during the last four overs, allowing only 28 off them. Auckland would have been satisfied with a target of 141 during the changeover, but their batsmen started too slowly. Perth knocked out New Zealand’s T20 champions and earned their only win of the tournament.