Aces win truncated contest

The Auckland Aces sealed the result they wanted despite their HRV Cup Twenty20 match against the Wellington Firebirds being a reduced affair due to rain today.

The contest at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland was delayed due to the elements and by the time it started the match had been cut to a 12 overs per side game.

The Aces, the defending champions, prevailed by 10 runs after scoring 116 for five and restricting the Firebirds to 106 for seven.

The home side’s total was built on two main contributions from Martin Guptill and Pakistani import Azhar Mahmood, who shared a 75-run partnership for the second wicket.

Guptill hit 46 off 32 balls, with three fours and two sixes, while Mahmood made 29 off 17 before he was run out by a direct hit from Jesse Ryder.

Guptill looked busy throughout until he was out thought by Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who dragged the batsman down the pitch with a wide delivery way outside off stump which saw wicketkeeper Craig Cachopa pull off a smart stumping.

Muralitharan, who only arrived in the country yesterday, was entrusted to open the bowling by Firebirds skipper Grant Elliott and he responded by claiming two for 15 from his three overs.

The visitors looked a chance at 81 for two in the ninth over but never fully recovered from the loss of their topscorer, Michael Pollard, who gave them early momentum.

Pollard hit six fours in reaching 45 off 27 balls only to be trapped leg before wicket by tall fast bowler Michael Bates, who removed Elliott the very next ball for a golden duck to seriously stall the Firebirds’ progress.  

Bates ended with two for 24 off three overs while Andre Adams took two for 31 off three.

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