Frances Mackay’s calm Canterbury Magicians simply brushed aside a challenge from this season’s giant-killers Northern Spirit en route to a seven-wicket win, albeit one that went right down to the last ball of the last over of the chase.
Spirit had got off to a strong start in the round three match thanks largely to an unbeaten 63 off 58 balls from their solid opening batsman Natalie Dodd, who set up a total of 143 for two on Bert Sutcliffe Oval alongside keeper-batsman Bernadine Bezuidenhout (28* off 21).
Together they poured on an unbroken 70-run stand off just 44 balls for the third wicket that swept the score along from 73 for two to 143 for two in the 20 overs, requiring the Mags to answer at a fair clip of 7.20 from the outset.
Despite shockwaves reverberating across the ground when 14-year-old Spirit sensation Nensi Patel had WHITE FERNS star Amy Satterthwaite caught behind on 18, the prolific Mackay breezed on for her first T20 half century of the season in reply, reaching 57 off 54 balls before she bowled by opposing captain Brooke Halliday.
By then, Mackay had shared a Canterbury Magicians record 101-run stand for the second wicket with WHITE FERNS leg-spinner Erin Bermingham, the latter continuing her strong summer with the bat with 44 off 42 balls before she, too, fell at the death.
Their partnership had eclipsed the previous mark of 99 that had been set by Mackay and Satterthwaite in 2010/11 at Christchurch’s Village Green at the old Queen Elizabeth II Park, but the wicket created a brief frisson of nerves for the only home team at the tournament round who had still needed 15 off the last 2.2 overs when Mackay fell. Now it was left to Thamsyn Newton and Rachel Candy to find the eight runs required off the final over.
Candy eased the equation with a boundary first ball against Halliday, but a dot ball follow-up still left four to be found from four. Singles were conceded, however, with Newton tapping the final winning run last ball after a penultimate leg bye had tied the scores.
There are now just two more rounds of women’s Twenty20 to come before the 2017 final, round four beginning on 2 January in Dunedin (University of Otago Oval) and Christchurch (Hagley Oval), followed by the 3 January double-header with McDonald's Super Smash for the Auckland Hearts and Wellington Blaze at Eden Park Outer Oval.
Tomorrow and Thursday will see the sames sides face each other as they switch to the 50-over format in the concurrent 2016/17 national One-Day Competition.