Caitlin Blakely and Polly Inglis shared a century stand| Images: PHOTOSPORT

Sparks sparkle again!



Otago Sparks beat Central Hinds by 82 runs

Saxton Oval, Nelson

31 October 2021



The Otago Sparks are back - with bells on. Despite an improved showing from the Central Hinds, the Otago Sparks carried on scripting the dream start to their season with back-to-back bonus point victories at Saxton Oval.

While the sun continued to shine, much windier conditions greeted the teams on Sunday for the second round with the umpires eventually simply pocketing the bails to stop them being blown off the stumps every over.

Bowling with the stiff cross gusts was a particular challenge for the spinners, and Sparks captain Suzie Bates was up for a bat first after winning the toss this time at the Nelson showcase.

Bates was one of the few Sparks to miss out in both matches this weekend, but still had plenty to celebrate as she watched her side step up and nail it for the second match on the trot.

Falling at 33/1, Kate Ebrahim - who had narrowly missed out on tonning up the day before - was the big first wicket to fall as Claudia Green again made the early breakthrough, with Bates becoming Hinds captain Jess Watkin's first wicket just two balls later in the eighth over at 33/2.

But a promising start for the hosts was snuffed out by the WHITE FERNS stars this time, but by Polly Inglis (68) and Caitlin Blakely (34) who piled on a century stand for the third wicket.

Inventive Inglis passed 50 for the fifth time in Shield cricket, batting into the 32nd over and gathering good momentum along the way.

Ultimately Inglis fell victim to a torrid attack from Watkin who had had Blakely caught in the 28th over, and then the big wicket of Hayley Jensen cheaply in her next over at 158/4, the 30-over mark for the Sparks.

Inglis tried to push on with Katey Martin, but Watkin swept in for her third wicket in as many overs with Melissa Hansen pouching a good catch on the boundary to end her stay at 166/5.

Still, a solid enough platform from which to escalate through the back 20, with Martin's firepower in the middle.

Watkin had two more overs up her sleeve but couldn't coax another wicket for a bag, finishing with 10-2-33-4 which was as good as a masterclass in the tricky conditions.

Once again Martin would not be budged, and was unlucky not to back up yesterday's thunderous ton with a half century - finishing with another red-inker on 49 not out at run-a-ball pace.

The Hinds kept chipping away with Hansen (3-29) rewarded with three late wickets to go with her two catches, and with her last ensuring that the hosts had the satisfaction of bowling out their opponents, this time - albeit for another hearty total with 265 runs on the tins in 49.2 overs.

That meant the Hinds would need almost run-a-ball from the outset and it was their two one-day newbies in their depleted squad who gave them the best chance of getting somewhere close.

The youthful opening batter Pedersen took some time to get herself in after her horror debut the day before, but once she had started to tick over the score, she showed sweet timing and elegance in her strokeplay.

She batted into the 31st over, top-scoring for her side with 39 - but by then she had lost three far more experienced partners.

Hayley Jensen had accounted for the explosive Watkin before Eden Carson picked up her career best List A haul of 3-31, including Hannah Rowe cheaply at four.

The pint-sized destroyer Carson has been something of a nemesis to the Hinds, having taken a Dream11 Super Smash five-for against them in Napier and it required some ship-steadying between the young pair of Pedersen and Gemma Sims to get the hosts back into the game.

The pair constructed a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket, but after Pedersen was gone, a late charge from Mikaela Greig (33*) - who can hit the ball a long way on her day - wasn't enough to save Central who crumbled away to be all out 183 in the 45th over.

Emma Black backed up her maiden bag on the Saturday with another useful haul of 3-23, including two maidens from her 10 overs.

The Sparks had another bonus point, 10 points in all for their fine weekend's work that so emphatically broke their mind-bogglingly lengthy 32-month losing trot in this competition. This was a side to be reckoned with, and the remaining four teams will have taken note for when they eventually get started in this competition themselves.

With Thanks To

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