Hampshire's Champions League Twenty20 adventure has ended at the first hurdle after they crashed to an eight-wicket defeat to Auckland Aces, who progress to the main draw as a result.
The English Twenty20 champions were undone by a familiar face as veteran all-rounder Azhar Mahmood claimed five wickets and struck an unbeaten 55 in a virtuoso display.
Mahmood's career-best figures in the format of 5-24 restricted the Royals to just 121-8 batting first at Centurion and the New Zealanders raced past the meagre target with 5.3 overs to spare.
The win was Auckland's second in a matter of days and ensures they qualify into the main Group Stage from Pool One.
After beating Pakistan champions Sialkot Stallions in Johannesburg the previous day, Auckland picked up where the left off in Centurion with a flurry of early wickets to peg back the Royals, who had been asked to bat first.
Mahmood's first delivery was in fact dispatched for six by James Vince, but the wily all-rounder swiftly exacted his revenge in an opening over which also resulted in the demise of former Auckland player Jimmy Adams.
Shahid Afridi's wretched run of form with the bat continued when he succumbed to his countryman for a four-ball duck, leaving Hampshire in trouble on 28-3 in the sixth over.
Australian Glenn Maxwell (11) fared little better and only a battling run-a-ball innings of 65 from opener Michael Carberry saw Hampshire up to a competitive total.
Auckland Aces openers Guptill and Lou Vincent made immediate inroads into the run-chase, adding 49 in under six overs as Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas (0-22) and Kabir Ali (0-23) struggled to find a consistent line and length.
Vincent (19) was dismissed courtesy of a smart diving catch from Adams at short cover off the bowling of Chris Wood (1-21), however Mahmood, in at No.3, continued his match to remember with a swashbuckling innings.
The 37-year-old, who scored two of this three Test centuries for Pakistan in South Africa, shared a quickfire 41-run partnership with Guptill before fittingly hitting the winning runs in the 15th over.