SKYCITY Northern Knights 195 all out (BJ Watling 72, Mitchell McClenaghan 4-33) in 44.4 overs lost to Auckland Aces 196-3 in 38.3 overs (Anaru Kitchen 87*, Colin de Grandhomme 41*) by seven wickets at Eden Park Outer Oval, Auckland.
The defending champs sent the competition a warning they intend to pick up where they left off. An aggressive bowling performance reduced the SKYCITY Northern Knights to 195 all out before 45 overs were up, and despite losing Martin Guptill from the first ball of the innings, the Auckland Aces cruised to victory with Anaru Kitchen's 87 not out the standout.
Four wickets at a miserly 3.3 an over from Mitchell McClenaghan anchored the Aces' attack. The visitor's BLACKCAPS-stacked line-up was largely unable to fire after a cautious start - the exception was BJ Watling, who made a fine 72 from 85 balls before being caught by Gareth Hopkins from McClenaghan. Kane Williamson scored 28 before holing out to Colin de Grandhomme from Bruce Martin, while Jono Hickey made the same score before falling to Michael Bates.
In reply, Martin Guptill was caught by Corey Anderson from Trent Boult on the first ball of the innings, but his opening partner Anaru Kitchen anchored the chase after Craig Cachopa was forced to retire hurt after facing nine balls. Colin Munro (27), Hopkins (32) and de Grandhomme (41 not out) all partnered Kitchen to get the home team home with over ten overs to spare.