Auckland Aces seek more Twenty20 paydays

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 14/10/2012
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OVERSEAS IMPORT: Azhar Mahmood is a key part of the Auckland Aces.

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Auckland have already reaped a $244,000 reward and coach Paul Strang sees no reason the momentum won't continue into the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa this week.

Auckland bolted into the main draw of the lucrative tournament by easily winning their two qualifying matches last week - against Pakistan side Sialkot and English champion Hampshire.

In becoming the first New Zealand team to win a match at the tournament - they, and Central Districts and Otago had all previously failed - they ensured a minimum $244,000 payday, but Strang isn't content with that.

The winner of the 10-team league earns $3 million and the former Zimbabwe legspinner believes improved preparation and form gives them every chance.

"It was our objective to get through to the main draw," Strang said.

"We fell at that qualifying hurdle last year and learnt our lessons. But now we're in, we'll take confidence from those two matches.

"We've had some match-winning performances but other guys contributed as well.

"Every team has outstanding players, so it will come down to which team nails its plans and we're confident we can do this."

The Aces travelled to South Africa three weeks ago and based themselves at the University of Pretoria, unlike last year when they based themselves in Brisbane and flew to India later.

"We prepared as well as we could have, given the limitation in New Zealand during winter and budgetary concerns, but we've really made the most of it," Strang said.

"You can only do so much indoors and I believe the decision to come here early was proven to be the right one.

"Our guys were a step ahead of the opposition in the fielding department and they adjusted to the pitch conditions and the bounce.

"We played four matches against the university's first team, which is one of the best in the country, and the facilities were second-to-none."

The Aces have a mix of experience - the likes of Pakistan import Azhar Mahmood, Kyle Mills, Martin Guptill and Lou Vincent have led the way so far - and youth in a settled squad.

They are in Pool A alongside the Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, who they play tomorrow, Perth Scorchers and the Titans, from South Africa.

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