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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
October 14, 2012
Match factsOctober 15, 2012
The Champions League moves to Newlands in Cape Town, which will host its first game, between Auckland Aces and Kolkata Knight Riders. The IPL 2012 winners, Knight Riders, got off to a terrible start on Saturday, losing heavily to Delhi Daredevils in Centurion. Chasing 161, Knight Riders were reeling at 3 for 3, undone by pace and movement. It was a puzzling decision by the captain Gautam Gambhir, to chase on a ground that heavily favours the team batting first under lights. Five of their batsmen got hit and Delhi's four-man pace attack was too imposing to tackle.
Knight Riders will be up against a team making its debut in the main round of the Champions League. Auckland arrived in South Africa two weeks before the qualifying round to acclimatise and things have gone smoothly for them, with victories in both their qualifying matches. Kyle Mills has been parsimonious - he had figures of 4-1-6-2 against Sialkot Stallions - and Azhar Mahmood has been among the wickets. Sterner tests lie ahead, when they come up against franchise teams that have the best foreign Twenty20 talent.
Watch out for...
Azhar Mahmood demolished Hampshire with bat and ball, becoming only the sixth player to take five wickets and score a fifty in a Twenty20 match. He may not be an international player anymore but he is enjoying a second coming as a freelance T20 specialist. Gareth Hopkins, the Auckland captain, emphasised the experience Mahmood brings to the unit. His game-changing abilities made him an asset during his on-and-off career for Pakistan and, at 37, his skills haven't diminished.
Brendon McCullum began his World Twenty20 campaign with a blazing 123 against Bangladesh in Pallekele - his second T20 international century. His CLT20 campaign wasn't so special though, getting out for a second-ball duck. Knight Riders also lost Jacques Kallis to an injury before he could open his account. If Kallis misses out, McCullum's contributions at the top will be all the more crucial.
Stats and trivia
"We played badly and it was an embarrassing batting performance. We have the talent and we will come back."
"Our guys were a step ahead of the opposition in the fielding department and they adjusted to the pitch conditions and the bounce."
Auckland coach Paul Strang
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Darren Sammy and Brendon McCullum have both had moments to savour as captains at international level but the pair begin this contest with major questions hanging over them