Spinner Michael Beer starred as Perth Scorchers salvaged some pride from the Champions League T20 cricket tournament, with a 16-run victory over New Zealand’s Auckland Aces in South Africa.
The Scorchers, who were out of semi-final contention going into their final group game after two losses and a no result in their three previous matches, scored 7-140 in Centurion.
Auckland, who still had a chance of making the last four four if they won, started well but were restricted to 8-124 on Wednesday (AEDT).
The Aces were well placed at 1-61 after nine overs, but lost 7-48 with Beer (3-13 off 4) turning the match around.
He had Martin Guptill (36 off 32) stumped by Luke Ronchi to end a threatening 49-run second-wicket stand with Azhar Mahmood (24 off 21).
Beer had Pakistan veteran Mahmood well caught by Herschelle Gibbs in the covers in his next over.
Paceman Joe Mennie (2-23 off 4) settled the issue by striking twice in the 18th over, earning a line-ball lbw decision to remove Auckland’s last specialist batsman, Colin Munro (23 off 18).
Perth captain Marcus North opted for three changes to his side, bringing in former England T20 captain Paul Collingwood and youngster Tom Beaton for brothers Shaun and Mitchell Marsh, and Ryan Duffield in for fellow paceman Nathan Rimmington.
All three of the promoted players made a contribution.
Duffield (1-17 off 3) struck an early breakthrough in his first senior T20 match, having the dangerous Lou Vincent (2 off 9) caught behind in the fourth over.
In Perth’s innings, Collingwood (38 off 27) and Beaton (22 off 19) added substance to the Scorchers’ score with a 51-run fourth-wicket partnership in six overs.
Earlier, left-handers North (37 off 35) and Simon Katich (21 off 23) added 55 for the second wicket in a little more than eight overs.
They came together after opening batsman Gibbs (6 off 6) lofted a drive straight to mid-off to complete a miserable tournament tally of 31 runs from his four innings.
The Scorchers lost three wickets in the final over bowled by paceman Michael Bates (4-34 off 4).