The Auckland Aces have fallen short in their quest to reach the Champions League Twenty20 semi-finals in South Africa, with a 16 run loss to the Perth Scorchers confirming their elimination.
Chasing the Australian side’s first innings score of 140 for seven, the Aces reached 124 for eight in their allotted overs. The loss sees the Delhi Daredevils and Nashua Titans progress from Group A.
The key to the pursuit had been the second wicket partnership of 59 between Martin Guptill and Azhar Mahmood. The duo looked comfortable at 61 for one after nine overs, but their momentum was halted thanks to a devastating spell from Michael Beer.
The wily spin bowler captured both batsmen, firstly having Guptill caught behind on 36, before snaring Mahmood in the 12th over for 23.
To compound matters the Aces also lost both Anaru Kitchen and Colin de Grandhomme cheaply, leaving them struggling at 75 for five after 12.3 overs.
With 36 balls remaining the New Zealand side required 60 to win, but the loss of regular wickets hampered their effort.
Captain Gareth Hopkins was bowled by Beer for nine and the Aces were 90 for six while Colin Munro provided some late hope with 19 off the 17th over to bring the equation back to 34 from 18 balls. However, the result of the match however was more or less confirmed when Munro (23) was adjudged lbw in the following over.
Kyle Mills and Michael Bates saw out the remainder of the innings without truly threatening the Scorcher’s total.
Beer claimed the scalps of three of the Aces most pivotal batsmen and finished with figures of three for 13 from four overs.
Earlier, the Aces bowling attached put in decent bowling performance, despite four of the top five Scorcher’s batsmen making valuable starts.
Captain Marcus North was the first to get going with 37 from 35 balls. He and partner Simon Katich (21) carried their side to 62 for one, before they were both dismissed in the space of five runs.
That brought together Paul Collingwood and Tom Beaton, who together established a 51 run partnership for the fourth wicket. Collingwood top scored for his side with 38, while Beaton chipped in with 22.
The Aces however made a crucial break-through at the start of the 18th over when Beaton was bowled by Bates. His replacements failed to make an impact in the final stages, as Bates picked up another couple of wickets and limited the number of late boundaries.
Mills was the most economical of the Aces bowlers with his four overs going for just 13, but it was Bates who was main wicket-taker with four for 34.