With power-hitting star Sophie Devine making a quick appearance before heading back to the Adelaide Strikers, a top of the table T20 clash between the Auckland Hearts and Wellington Blaze was always going to be the headline feature of Round Three of the women’s short form competition in Lincoln.
Hearts skipper Maddy Green put Blaze into bat on Lincoln Green and, at 30 for five within the first eight overs, her side made a promising start to the thriller — fellow WHITE FERN Holly Huddleston (3-15) delighted at having bowled Devine for just two.
Young Bella Armstrong (above, 3-20) then took care of Amelia Kerr while Suzie McDonald and Fran Wilson had both been sent back into the sheds for ducks by Arlene Kelly (3-12).
Had it not been for a gritty mid-order recovery from the experienced duo of Liz Perry (21 off 24) and Eimear Richardson (a run-a-ball 25), the Blaze might have been bundled out for a seriously light total.
However, the capital reps made it to triple figures (103 all out) after Perry and Richardson added 42 for the sixth wicket, then Jess McFadyen helped Perry carry on into the death... before Huddleston and Armstrong came back to dismiss the side with ball to spare.
The Auckland Hearts were in for a dose of their own medicine, despite Lauren Down (22) getting the Aucklanders off to a good start and keeping up with the run rate early.
Green (above, 19) and Maia Bouchier (20) put on 39 for the third wicket to have the Hearts well placed at 70 for two with five overs remaining.
Cue Lucy Doolan (3-16) producing a match-winning spell for the Blaze, three wickets claimed in quick time — including both set batsmen to ensure that the game would go down to the wire.
Unfortunately for the Hearts its tail was unable to cope with Blaze’s torrid death bowling and the rising run rate, falling just eight runs short as Blaze became the only unbeaten side left in the competition.