Auckland dished out a disciplined all-round performance to notch up a comfortable six-wicket victory over Sialkot Stallions in the qualifying match of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in Johannesburg.
Lead by Kyle Mills (2/6), Ronnie Hira (2/36) and Andre Adams (2/21), Auckland first restricted Sialkot Stallions to a modest 130 for nine in their stipulated 20 overs after they decided to bat.
The Auckland team then returned to overhaul the target with 2.5 overs to spare at the New Wanderers stadium.
For Auckland, opener Martin Guptill was the top-scorer with his 32-ball 40-run innings, while Lou Vincent (20), Azhar Mahmood (24) and A Kitchen (33 not out) made useful contributions.
Shahid Yousuf top-scored for the Stallions with a 25-ball 39 which was laced with three sixes and equal number of boundaries. But the Stallions could not build partnerships and lost wickets in regular intervals.
Guptill, who had five fours and a six in his 32-ball stay, lead the runchase with a 32-run opening stand with Vincent, who smashed three fours and a six in his 16-ball innings.
Guptill also starred in a 51-run second wicket stand in 40 balls with Azhar, who scored three fours in his 23-ball innings. Once the opener was dismissed, Kitchen lead the chase and took his team home. His 21-ball innings was studded with two fours and two sixes.
Earlier, the Stallions had a subdued start as Mills and Bates bowled in rhythm, giving away just 11 in the first five over. Bates brought the first break through, dismissing opener Shakeel Ansar (1) in the second over when he had him caught at mid-on by Anaru Kitchen.
In the sixth over, Sialkot had a big over when Haris Sohail (12) hit Azhar for a six and a four and Nazir smashed another six at the fine leg region.
Adams, however, got rid off Haris in the next over and Azhar then reduced Sialkot to 30 for three when he dismissed Nazir. In pursuit of a big hit, Nazir ended up top-edging the ball to short third man.
Yousuf then joined skipper Shoaib Malik and took charge of the situation. He sent Adams for consecutive sixes over long off and deep square-leg respectively in the ninth over and then hit Colin Munro for a couple of boundaries to take Sialkot across the 50-mark.
After a couple of quiet overs, Malik sent Colin de Grandhomme sailing over cover for a much-needed six, while three balls later Yousuf sent a length ball for a straight six as Sialkot reached 79 for three in 13 overs.
However, Hira broke the partnership in the next over when the spinner latched on to a caught and ball chance to sent Yousuf back to the dug-out. He had added 57 runs with Shoaib for the fourth wicket.
Hira picked up his second wicket, dismissing Shoaib in the 16th over. Looking to launch a delivery over long-off, Shoaib ended up giving a catch to Guptill.
A beautiful catch by Colin de Grandhomme off Adam's delivery sent new batsman Qaiser Abbas back to the pavilion as the Stallions were reduced to 97 for six.
Naved-ul-Hasan then tried his bit to step up the run-rate with a six off Hira over long-on. Ali Khan too tried his hand and brought up a couple of sixes off Hira to help Sialkot accumulate 21 runs of the 18th over.
Mills was then brought back into the attack and the pacer picked up Naved-ul-Hasan and Bilawal Bhatti in one over to reduce the Stallions to 120 for eight at the end of 19 overs.
Bates then dismissed Ali Khan in the third ball of the final over, before Raza Hasan ended the Sialkot innings with a four along the fine leg boundary.