Early favourites the Canterbury Magicians and Auckland Hearts are locked at the top of the table after round three of an intense national Twenty20 competition.
WHITE FERN Katie Perkins hit the winning runs with a full over to spare in the Hearts’ impressive seven-wicket win over the Otago Sparks as all the sides in round three converged on Lincoln, Perkins smashing a career best, unbeaten 75 off just 51 balls with 40 of those runs coming in boundaries.
Operating at a strike rate of 147, Perkins dominated, consolidated and escalated the Hearts’ chase in equal measure with an unbroken 119-run stand off 84 balls for the fourth wicket with captain Vic Lind (40 not out off 37) — breaking the Heart’s fourth wicket partnership record of 115* that Perkins had already set with Sara McGlashan at Auckland’s Melville Park in 2013/14.
They were chasing 137 at 6.85 for the win against the ilk of Leigh Kasperek and a tidy Suzie Bates, and it was an important recovery, after two quick wickets from Bates (back for this sole game for the Sparks, before returning to the WBBL) and one to Millie Cowan that had left the Hearts shell-shocked at 18/3 after five overs.
Sparks captain for this round was Katey Martin and she had led the way for her teammates with a top score of 55 after being sent in, but fellow WHITE FERN Holly Huddleston struck two massive blows for the Hearts by bowling both Martin and Bates (15 off 14), as well as claiming a brace of catches to hold the Sparks to 136 for six, despite 10 off her pick'n'mix last over including Martin's wicket first ball, a boundary, two wides and two leg byes.
There are just two more rounds of women’s Twenty20 action to come before the 2017 final, with the Hearts looking to take the title off the Magicians.
Tomorrow and Thursday sees the sames sides face each other as they switch to 50-over cricket in the national One-Day Competition.