Auckland exited the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament in South Africa after a middle-order collapse against the Perth Scorchers saw them crash to a 16-run defeat.
The New Zealand T20 champions failed to chase down Perth’s 140-7, stumbling to 124-8 after making a bright start to be 61-1 through nine overs at Centurion.
Needing victory in their final pool match to keep their hopes alive, the Auckland batsmen failed to cope with left-arm spinner Michael Beer, who took 3-13 from four overs.
Opener Martin Guptill top-scored with 36 from 32 balls while Azhar Mahmood and Colin Munro both contributed 23. However, no other Aucklander reached double figures and the loss of five wickets for 29 runs in six overs through the middle stages proved crippling.
Auckland captain Gareth Hopkins said his side should have done better.
“The Perth boys batted quite well, but still 140 was gettable,” he told reporters.
“Perth showed us how to bat on a slow wicket. We have picked guys in the middle who have done it for us back home, I was confident in them. Bitterly disappointing.”
Earlier, Michael Bates took 4-34 with the ball for Auckland and Kyle Mills recorded frugal figures of 0-14 off four overs against a Perth side whose top scorer was former England captain Paul Collingwood with 38.
Auckland’s performance was the best by a New Zealand team in the short history of the lucrative tournament, becoming the first Kiwi team to win a match.
They won two qualifying matches in impressive style against Pakistan’s Sialkot Stallions and English county Hampshire.
An opening pool defeat of India’s Kolkata Knight Riders was followed by a loss to South African side the Titans and a washed out match against the Delhi Daredevils.