Perth Scorchers beat Auckland Aces by 16 runs to knock out the latter and assure Delhi Daredevils a semifinal spot from Group A in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament here on Tuesday.
Chasing a modest target of 141, Auckland failed to capitalise on the 49-run second-wicket stand between opener Martin Guptill and Azhar Mahmood and ended on 124 for eight in its stipulated 20 overs.
Perth clawed its way back into the match with four quick strikes in the middle overs. Left-arm spinners Michael Beer and Brad Hogg and pacer Joe Mennie shared bulk of the spoils between them. Beer was the stand-out performer as the Victorian finished with impressive figures of three for 13 to take the man-of-the-match award.
For Auckland, Guptill top-scored with 32-ball 36 while Mahmood, who looked well set, was caught by Herschelle Gibbs off Beer for 24.
Auckland kept on losing wickets at regular intervals as Anaru Kitchen (2), Colin de Grandhomme (4) and skipper Gareth Hopkins (9) failed to make any substantial contribution with the bat.
Losing the plot
Auckland was off to a bad start as it lost opener Lou Vincent (2) early into the innings. Guptill and Mahmood took the team past 50-run mark with their defiant stand but once both were separated, the New Zealand T20 champion lost the plot and from a comfortable position of 61 for one was left struggling at 75 for five in 13 overs. The misery was further compounded by Mennie who struck twice in the 18th over to put paid to any hopes of Auckland advancing to the next stage.
Earlier, an impressive bowing effort by pacer Michael Bates helped Aces restrict Scorchers to 140 for seven after Scorchers skipper Marcus North decided to bat in their last league fixture.
Bates finished with impressive figures of four for 34. He picked up the wickets of Luke Ronchi and Mennie in the last over of the innings after scalping Tom Beaton in his previous over. He had earlier accounted for danger-man Herschelle Gibbs (6) in his first spell.
Beaton (22) and Paul Collingwood (38) resurrected the Scorchers innings after it was left reeling at 67 for three in 12 overs. They put up a much needed 36-ball 51-run partnership for the fourth wicket to help the Australian side reach a respectable score.
After the early loss of Gibbs, North (37) and Simon Katich (21) combined well to put on 55 for the second wicket but then perished in quick succession. North (37) was run-out by a direct hit by Kyle Mills while Katich (21) fell victim to spinner Ronnie Hira.
North and Katich hit a flurry of boundaries with the skipper contributing with four hits to the fence and a single six.
When the momentum looked like shifted in Auckland's way, Beaton and Collingwood revived Scorchers' sagging fortunes. Collingwood hit five fours in his 27-ball stay at the crease before being run-out by Hira on the second ball of the last over.
Perth Scorchers: H. Gibbs c Munro b Bates 6, M. North (run out) 37, S. Katich b Hira 21, P. Collingwood (run out) 38, T. Beaton b Bates 22, L. Ronchi c Guptill b Bates 4, N. Coulter-Nile (not out) 1, J. Mennie c Hira b Bates 2, B. Hogg (not out) 4; Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-2): 5; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 140.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-62, 3-67, 4-118, 5-132, 6-133, 7-135.
Auckland Aces bowling: Mills 4-0-14-0, Bates 4-0-34-4, Mahmood 4-0-24-0, Martin 4-0-25-0, Hira 3-0-27-1, Grandhomme 1-0-13-0.
Auckland Aces: M. Guptill c Ronchi b Beer 36, L. Vincent c Ronchi b Duffield 2, A. Mahmood c Gibbs b Beer 23, A. Kitchen c Beaton b Hogg 6, C. Munro lbw b Mennie 23, C. de Grandhomme (run out) 4, G. Hopkins b Beer 9, R. Hira b Mennie 2, K. Mills (not out) 7, M. Bates (not out) 9; Extras (lb-1, w-2): 3; Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs): 124.
Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-61, 3-68, 4-71, 5-75, 6-90, 7-108, 8-109.
Perth Scorchers bowling: Beer 4-0-13-3, Mennie 4-0-23-2, Coulter-Nile 4-0-26-0, Duffield 3-0-17-1, Hogg 4-0-30-1, Collingwood 1-0-14-0.
Keywords: Champions League Twenty20