Auckland Hearts beat Wellington Blaze by 8 wickets
Karori Park, Wellington
21 February 2021
The Auckland Hearts capped a strong weekend of Hallyburton Johnstone Shield action with their second big win over Wellington Blaze, snatching second spot on the points table (on net run rate) with a second bonus-point win over the winning weekend.
Chasing Blaze's 201, skipper Lauren Down and allrounder Arlene Kelly led the way with a record second-wicket stand of 180 runs - surpassing their own record, set in last year’s HBJ Final against Northern Districts.
The pair had been brought together in the first over, and batted their side into a dominant position. Down again found the boundary regularly, hitting 11 fours on her way to an unbeaten 104* off 124 balls - her second career century.
Kelly proved the perfect foil, patiently working her way into her innings and finishing with 65 off 102 balls. There was little left to do when Kelly was stumped with the score at 180, other than for Down to bring up her century. The winning runs came soon after in the 40th over.
Earlier, Holly Huddleston played a major role in pegging back a reasonable Blaze start during the opening 10 overs. The leader of the attack picked up the first three Blaze wickets as the hosts slipped from 45/0 to 50/3.
Anna Peterson (2-27) tied the Blaze down. The wicket of Georgia Plimmer was the allrounder’s reward, but the Hearts were still being held up by the ever consistent and dangerous Jess McFadyen.
The Blaze wicketkeeper continued her stellar campaign with 52, before the Aucklanders hit back again.
Molly Penfold, Jesse Prasad and Bella Armstrong all chimed in with wickets before Huddleston (4-29) returned for her fourth wicket. The Blaze kept fighting towards the end of their 50 overs with Xara Jetly (30) and Beth Molony (31) lifting their total to 200 all out on the final ball of the innings.The Hearts' winning weekend sets up a fascinating final two rounds of the regular season in three weeks' time when they will go head to head with the Canterbury Magicians for both rounds, the two locked on points at the head of the table. Meanwhile the Central Hinds sit just one point back, and will be hoping for split results between their rivals to maximise their own chances of proceeding to the Final.