Guptill, Kitchen blitz sinks Stallions

2012-10-10 07:58

Champions League T20, Qualifying Tournament, Pool 1
Sialkot Stallions 130/9 (Shahid Yousuf 39, Ali Khan 19, Kyle Mills 2/6, Andre Adams 2/19, Ronnie Hira 2/36) lost to Auckland Aces 136/4 (Martin Guptill 40, Anaru Kitchen 32*, Azhar Mahmood 24, Sarfraz Ahmed, 2/31, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan 1/16 by six wickets)

In the end it was a cruise, but on a track that offered some movement for the pacemen.

Shoaib Malik’s decision to bat first backfired: as in the earlier game between Yorkshire and Uva Next, big runs were needed to win.

Defending 130 was never going to be easy and quick wickets were needed. Left arm quick Sarfraz Ahmed bowled a searching opening over. The hard work was undone by Bilawal Bhatti, who conceded eight in his first over.

Ahmed was also carted around the ground, with 18 runs coming from his second over, with Lou Vincent’s flashing blade taking the lion’s share of the boundaries.

Vincent didn’t last long though, with Bhatti picking up his wicket. That paved the way for Martin Guptill to take over the attacking role. Spinners Qaiser Abbas and the impressive Hasan Raza dried up the boundaries, but the singles were picked up easily.

When pace returned in the form of Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, so did the boundaries. Naved-ul-Hasan took care of the dangerous Guptill, who gave Bhatti catching practice at deep square-leg.

Mahmood, who was slipstreaming the bludgeoning Guptill, couldn’t seal the job as he popped an easy catch for Malik at short cover off Ahmed, who later in the over, followed it up with the wicket of Colin de Grandhomme, who feathered one to Shakeel Ansar.

At 97/4, the chase looked like it was dissipating, by Anaru Kitchen and Colin Munro eased any demon that might have arisen with an 11-run from Bhatti.

Hasan’s clean figures in the 13th were messed up by Kitchen and Munro, who took 13 runs from a spinner who once reduced the Proteas to stroke less wonders in the ICC T20 World Cup.

It was a slow start from the Pakistani champions, as they struggled to get Michael Bates and Kyle Mills away.

And it was the former who got rid of Shakeel Ansar, who was forced to drive at a delivery that was not quite there. The strangulation then became constriction as the Ace’s opening bowlers exchanged maidens.

It became too much for Imran Nazir, who clipped Bates over fine leg for six.

It was only in the sixth over, Azhar Mahmood’s first, where the Stallions tried to spark a fire as Haris Sohail and Nazir took 18 off the over. It was a false dawn, as Sohail limply punched Andre Adams to Lou Vincent at backward point, ending an excruciating 19-ball 12.

Nazir did not last longer either, as he made Mahmood atone for his earlier aberration.

With the wicket getting juiced up because of the evening dew, it needed an aggressive approach and Shahid Yousuf provided.

If it was short, he hooked and if it was full, the invitation to drive was not turned down. An anomaly of the innings was that more sixes than fours where hit, but that was credit to the accurate bowling and tight fielding.

At the other end, Shoaib Malik was content to rotate the strike as even the singles were not forthcoming.

In his 29-ball innings, Yousuf clubbed three fours and three sixes before their 57-run partnership was ended was ended by an excellent return catch by Ronnie Hira.

Malik and Qaiser Abbas followed in quick succession and it looked like 130 was a pipe dream.

A 21-run over off Hira, which included three sixes by Ali Khan and Naved-ul-Hasan, made it possible, but a tight penultimate over by Mills, where he took the wickets of Bilawal Bhatti and Naved-ul-Hasan.

Only hard running and a cheeky boundary off Bates’ last over took the total past 130. It was never going to be enough.

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