Azhar blasts Auckland, Hampshire out
11 October, 2012
Auckland 123 for 2 (Mahmood 55*) beat Hampshire 121 for 8 (Carberry 65, Mahmood 5-24) by eight wickets
Azhar Mahmood produced a remarkable all-round performance to send Auckland through to the main draw of the Champions League. His 55 not out blazed Auckland's trail to a target his 5 for 24 had ensured was paltry. The victory wrapped up Pool 1 with Hampshire and Sialkot unable to qualify.
Despite their schedule in the qualifying tournament lasting two days, Auckland have 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 benefitted 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 as Mahmood slammed four sixes in his 31-ball knock. He became the fifth player to score fifty and take five wickets in a T20.
In 2010 Hampshire announced a grand deal with Rajasthan Royals to form a global franchise with clubs from other countries, setting up a travelling circus of money-spinning tournaments. But all that materialised of that deal was Hampshire becoming the "Royals," in line with the Indian franchise.
On the back of that deal, Hampshire would have expected a world stage sooner than the 2012 Champions League Twenty20. This is their first appearance in the competition and immediately they are faced with producing a world-class performance in the field to keep their campaign alive.
The made a below-par total on a sluggish wicket that the Auckland seamers again enjoyed after their performance in restricting Sialkot to a score they easily chased at the Wanderers. Another successful chase and they will confirm their passage into the main draw of the tournament.
Clean hitting was at a premium and the method of nearly all of the eight dismissals demonstrated the nature of the surface. The wicket was a little sticky, without the pace and carry the Wanderers offered, and as such, timing was difficult for the batsman.
James Vince managed to time one six into the stands but his second attempt found mid-on from high on the bat; Jimmy Adams drove loosely outside off and edged behind; and Shahid Afridi - at No. 4 despite his poor recent form - Sean Ervine and Glenn Maxwell all perished to catches in the deep.
Hampshire's debut was flashing them by and it took Michael Carberry to prevent total disaster. Carberry's timing was horrendous for the majority of his 65-ball innings but he stuck it out and made a half-century that at least gave Hampshire something. He took nine runs off Kyle Mills's opening over - three more than Mills conceded in four overs against Sialkot - with a gloved hook that went for six encapsulating the batsmen's struggles on an underprepared wicket.
Carberry tried to lay a platform but batting didn't get easier. He was alone though in sticking around and working the bowling to accumulate a score. Carberry managed some acceleration with two boundaries in Andre Adams' final over and two more as Michael Bates closed the innings.
Carberry fell trying to swing Azhar Mahmood over long-on and it was he that profited most from the errant strokes of much of the Hampshire order, as he returned 5 for 24. The wickets of Vince and Adams had come in his first over; four balls of his second were enough to lure Afridi into a slog into the air. His final over saw Liam Dawson backing away and slapping to extra cover and captain Dimitri Mascarenhas carving a full ball to deep cover point. He could have had a six-for but spilled a catch running back from his final delivery.