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Win or bust for Hampshire against Auckland Aces in Champions League qualifier
IT’S win or bust for the Hampshire Royals in this afternoon’s Champions League Twenty20 showdown against Auckland Aces at Centurion Park.
Having beaten Sialkot Stallions by six wickets at a near empty Bidvest Wanderers last night, the New Zealanders will be certain of topping the qualifying group and reaching the competition proper if they beat Hampshire today and top the three-team group.
A Hampshire defeat would make it impossible for the Royals to progress in the competition – which has a quick-fire exit for the loser – and face Simon Katich’s Perth Scorchers in the group stages.
Shahid Afridi, who missed Sunday’s warm-up match against Uve Next, has flown in from the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka to join the Hampshire squad.
But the Royals, already without the wedding alter bound Danny Briggs, have a concern over the influential Dimi Mascarenhas, who is receiving treatment for a shin injury. Mascarenhas has not played since Hampshire won the Friends Life twenty20 in Cardiff in late August.
He missed last month’s Pro40 triumph against Warwickshire at Lord’s – again due to injury.
In last night’s opening Qualifying Group match, Auckland chased down Sialkot Stallions’ 130-9 to win by six wickets with 17 balls to spare.
The Kiwis looked an effective unit in the field, with Test paceman Kyle Mills taking 2-6 off his four overs – figures earning the man-of-the-match award.
The Pakistan champions struggled for runs throughout, with Shahid Yousuf, with 39 including three sixes, the only batsman to make his mark.
Auckland came out of the blocks at a pace, Black Cap opener Martin Guptill (40) and Lou Vincent (20) rattling along at ten runs an over.
Vincent fell at 32-1, but by the time Guptill was dismissed (at 83-2), Auckland were in sight of the finishing post.
Anaru Kitchen (33 not out) and Azhar Mahmood (22) effectively completed the formalities.