Colin Ingram’s superbly measured 84 not out fired his Boost Defenders to a comfortable 35-run win over Auckland in the inaugural match of the Abu Dhabi T20 competition at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The South African batsman underpinned an imposing 205-5 by smashing six fours and five sixes in a powerful 47-ball assault having earlier been inserted by opposite number Craig Cachopa.
Captain Ingram then struck once with his part-time leg-spinners in a comfortable defence of the target to start Group B in ideal fashion and build on the current feel good factor surrounding Afghanistan cricket.
Kyle Abbott led the way with an excellent 3-21 from his four overs as the Aces finished on 170-5.
Ingram, one of seven overseas players fielded by Boost, came to the crease at the end of the first over when tall left-arm seamer Ben Lister had uprooted Ramith Rambukwella’s middle stump (9-1).
He was supported by opener Cameron Delport’s bright 36 off 20 balls and Afghan international Noor-ul-Haq’s late unbeaten 29 off 21.
Ingram and Noor shared an unbroken 74 for the sixth wicket inside the last six overs of their innings. For the Aces, off-spinner Will Somerville returned 2-28 from four overs, the pick of the figures.
In reply, Robbie O’Donnell played nicely for the Aces and top-scored with an unbeaten 67 off 46 balls.
But his task always looked too great against an experienced attack led by internationals Abbott and Jeevan Mendis.
O’Donnell reached his fifty off 36 balls in the 17th over, by which time the New Zealanders were 137-3 needing 69 more. That target became an impossible 46 off the last over.
Ingram came into this tournament urging his players to replicate the exciting brand of cricket played by Afghanistan at the recent Asia Cup here in the UAE, and the left-hander certainly followed his own advice.
They face the Titans tomorrow evening (7pm) before Auckland face the South Africans on Saturday.