Auckland's tried and true campaigners came to the fore as they beat Pakistani outfit Sialkot in their opening qualifying game for next week's Twenty20 Champions League tournament by six wickets in Johannesburg this morning.
Kyle Mills took 2-6 from four overs as Auckland restricted the Stallions to 130-9 from their 20 overs before Martin Guptill belted 40 from 32 balls and Anaru Kitchen finished the job with an unbeaten 33 from 21 to get the Aces home with 17 balls to spare.
Auckland can book a spot in the 10-team Champions League with victory over English champions Hampshire tomorrow.
A loss would have them relying on Sialkot to beat Hampshire in the final pool A match, in which case the winner - and sole qualifier - would be determined by the team with the best net run-rate.
There are two pools of three teams in the qualifying tournament with the winner of each pool to join Indian sides Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, Australia's representatives Sydney and Perth, and South Africa's Titans and Highveld Lions in the 10-team league, which starts next week.
Short scoreboard: Sialkot Stallions 130-9 (Shahid Yousuf 39; Kyle Mills 2-6, Ronnie Hira 2-36) lost to Auckland 136-4 (Martin Guptill 40, Anaru kitchen 33*; Sarfraz Ahmed 2-31) by six wickets