Durban: Spirited to the core and unbeaten so far, qualifiers Auckland Aces will be up against a tough challenge when they take on South African side Titans in their second Group A match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Wednesday.
Having defeated IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders last night, Auckland is a team on a roll given that it had won both its qualifying matches as well.
Devoid of big stars, the Gareth Hopkins-led team has been a surprise package with its gritty performances. Titans are also interestingly a similar unit and it should be a battle of equals.
But being the home team, Titans will have the slight edge even though Auckland, making their CLT20 debut this year, have also adjusted remarkably after arriving quite early for the tournament.
"We've come from winter back home and it required adapting to the conditions here before the tournament started," Auckland opener Lou Vincent said.
An enterprising batting line-up has been Auckland's strength and this was revealed in match against KKR with good contributions coming from the top order even though the target to chase was not huge.
Experienced allrounder Azhar Mahmood was the star performer with both bat and ball. He will be a crucial player for the team as it makes its progress along with Vincent and Martin Guptill.
The Titans, on the other hand, is also a team which relies on joint efforts instead of individual brilliance given the absence of big names. The only match they have played so far in the event was the tournament-opener against Perth Scorchers. It was a clinical performance.
Jacques Rudolph shone at the top with a brilliant unbeaten 83 that set the foundation for a big score and the bowlers did the rest, stifling Perth batsmen with incisive spells in familiar conditions.
Auckland Aces: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Lou vincent, 3 Azhar Mahmood, 4 Anaru Kitchen, 5 Colin de Grandhomme, 6 Gareth Hopkins (captain), 7 Colin Munro, 8 Ronnie Hira, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Andre Adams, 11 Michael Bates
Titans: 1 Jacques Rudolph, 2 Henry Davids, 3 Martin van Jaarsveld (captain), 4 Farhaan Behardien, 5 David Wiese, 6 Roelof van der Merwe, 7 Heino Kuhn, 8 Cornelius de Villiers, 9 Alfonso Thomas, 10 Eden Links, 11 Ethy Mbhalati
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