Auckland Hearts lost to Wellington Blaze by eight wickets
Kennards Hire Community Oval, Eden Park, Auckland
Auckland Hearts captain Lauren Down got the new year off to a cracking start with her new one-day career best - against a strong Wellington Blaze attack. Yet it would not prove enough.
After having won the toss on a scorching Auckland summer's day, Down had elected to bat and set to work crafting a magnificent 124 off 143 balls at the top (including 10 boundaries and one six) at her home ground.
Down's milestone smashed her previous HBJ and List A best of 108, and was her third century in the format.
Her team would need every run, too, after most of the order failed to fire in a match that was veteran Katie Perkins's 119th HBJ game for the Hearts - breaking the Auckland record of 118 that Perkins had shared with retired former Hearts captain Vic Lind.
The Hearts were seeking their first win of the one-day season in their second fixture, against Blaze who were two from four as the two strong sides went head to head.
Down got support from Jesse Prasad (a quick 38) for a 97-run sixth wicket stand and had earlier put on 61 for the second alongside Arlene Kelly (22).
But Melie Kerr (3-47) as usual had a big influence on proceedings and removed both partners, with the Hearts' next best contributor being Ms. Extras on 21.
Kerr's sister Jess finally had opener Down caught at 213/9 in the 47th over after a marathon effort from the skipper on a blistering afternoon.
The Hearts reached 219 before they were bowled out in 48.5 overs, Jess Kerr wrapping it up for an outstanding 2-9 off her 5.5 overs.
It would be a fine day for the Kerr family yet again as Melie Kerr chalked up her eighth List A half century and had the Blaze cruising at the 30-over mark, the visitors 131 for two.
Maddy Green and Kerr put the foot down to skim 15 runs off the next over and further tamp down the required run rate.
Jess McFadyen has contributed a patient knock of 44 with Kerr, the pair putting on 88 for the second wicket after Holly Huddleston had the early wicket of Rebecca Burns at 19/1 in the fifth.
But that was the end of the celebrations for the Hearts as Green and Kerr walked it home, Kerr finishing unbeaten on 93* off 96 balls with eight boundaries, and Green 51* off 56 (six boundaries) in their match-winning unbroken 115*-run partnership for the third wicket.