After two days on struggle street against the Central Hinds in Oamaru, the Otago Sparks finished their one-day Hallyburton Johnstone Shield season on a winning note, to the tune of 140 runs and a national record partnership no less.
Captained by Leigh Kasperek in the absence of both Suzie Bates and Katey Martin (WBBL), “Kasper” delivered to turn the tables on the visitors, England international Beth Langston also stepping up as the hosts plastered 273 for seven onto the tins batting first.
Both batsmen were in sight of tons when they were dismissed, but they could take comfort, later at least, that their 166-run partnership was a match-winning joint effort; while Morna Nielsen also enjoyed a change of fortune at the top, getting the team off to a start with her 55-ball 42 to counter a couple of early wickets.
Their fifth-wicket stand was a national domestic record in the one-day format, shattering the 10-year-old mark of 133 that had been held by Wellington Blaze, and easily going past the former Sparks mark of 110*.
Batting at four, WHITE FERN Kasperek’s 92 came in 113 balls before young Central pace bowler Rosemary Mair finally enticed a catch to Hannah Rowe, who made her return to the bowling crease in this match after recovering from a dislocated finger. Yet to score a century, it was the second time Kasperek had finished in the 90s, after her career best unbeaten 95 in 2014/15.
Langston (96 off 93, 9x4, 1x6) would meanwhile bat into the final over, reaching the highest score by any Spark to have batted at six, and just one stroke away from three figures when she was bowled by spinner Jess Watkin.
Langston’s disappointment didn’t last long as she came out after lunch fired up for a strong performance with the ball, claiming a mean 3-22 off her 10 while Kasperek also assisted by taking out the dangerous wicket of Hannah Rowe in the middle order.
By then the Hinds’ innings had been tied in knots, Georgie Clarke having helped ripped through the top with 3-27 and the Hinds stumbled to 83 for seven.
With no batsman getting past 18 in reply — extras was the top scorer with 30; it was a straightforward and one-sided victory for the Sparks, and a mid-table finish to their one-day summer.
Five rapid-fire rounds remain, however, for the defending NZC Women’s Twenty20 champions to try to hold onto their maiden title in the short format, starting on 8 February in Lincoln.