Confident Aces all set for a gruelling Titans challenge

Team from Auckland high on morale after win over Kolkata

Spirited to the hilt and unbeaten so far, qualifiers Auckland Aces would be up against a tough challenger when they take on local outfit Titans in their second Group ‘A’ match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Wednesday.

Having defeated IPL champions Kolkata knight Riders on Monday night, Auckland are on a roll given that they had won both their qualifying matches as well.

Devoid of any big stars, the Gareth Hopkins-led team has been a surprise package with its gritty performances. Interestingly, the Titans too are a similar unit and it should be a battle of equals. But by virtue of being the home team, the Titans will have an edge even though Auckland -- making their CLT20 debut this year -- have adjusted remarkably after arriving 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 had 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 all-rounder Azhar Mahmood was the star performer with both the bat and ball. He would 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 with both the bat and ball.

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 of the job, stifling Perth batsmen with incisive spells in familiar conditions.

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