Suzie Bates. Image:

Magic for Mackay in Molyneux nailbiter

Frances Mackay’s first match as captain of the Canterbury Magicians saw her put Suzie Bates’s Otago Sparks in at Molyneux Park — but it was Bates in charge early, the WHITE FERNS captain slamming six boundaries in a quick 41 to get her side off to a flier in a hard-fought southern derby.

Otago Sparks 128/5 in 20 overs (Suzie Bates 41, Polly Inglis 27, Megan Gibbs 30 not out) lost to Canterbury Magicians 130/7 in 20 overs (Frances Mackay 45, Amy Satterthwaite 37) at Molyneux Park, Alexandra on 2 December 2017


Run out in the ninth over, Bates's dismissal proved the trigger for a quick flurry of key wickets — Amy Satterthwaite bowling fellow WHITE FERN in Katey Martin on 12, then helping run out yet another key player in Leigh Kasperek (12) to end the latter's first innings of the season (having recovered from a broken spinning finger, then subsequent hamstring niggle).

While a setback for the Sparks, Megan Gibbs helped regain momentum by pumping a six off Erin Bermingham in the 16th over, Polly Inglis following suit the next over with a six of her own off Mackey, to post the hosts’ 100 off 102 balls.

The pair was up against the combined experience of Lea Tahuhu and Kate Broadmore at the death, but Gibbs kept it up — slamming a trio of consecutive boundaries off Broadmore amid a handy 14 runs off the penultimate over, the last of them punching up their fifth-wicket 50-stand, off just 32 balls. But Satterthwaite swooped again to help run out Inglis next ball, off her own bowling — going for just a single off the last over to hold the Sparks to a total of 128 for five.

It would prove vital. The Magicians’ solid duo of Satterthwaite and Mackay then built a 57-run stand for the first wicket in reply, before Satterthwaite was caught for a brisk 37.

However, 57/1 rapidly became 68/3 after the quick loss of fellow WHITE FERNS Bermingham and Thamsyn Newton, off consecutive overs, Rachel Candy joining anchorwoman Mackey on 22* when they needed a further 61 off 9.4 overs, and facing the combined spinning might of Kasperek and Morna Nielsen through the middle. The turning point of the match, but for which team?

Mackey ruined an otherwise flawless last over from Kasperek (4-0-20-1) by slamming a six off her final delivery, but the pressure on the run chase had been steadily building. By the 15-over mark, the Magicians still needed 39 off the last five overs at an RPO of 7.80, Mackay and Candy keeping touch with sharp singles.

With three overs left, they had got their target down to 20, but Martin and bowler Bates combined first ball of the 18th over to run out the prodigious Mackay after a fine 45 off 47 balls.

Just as the Sparks had the upper hand, they would drop it again. Six wides — four of them thanks to the rope, lifted some of the pressure off new batsman Tahuhu, 12 runs now needed from 12 remaining balls. It would  boil down to an all-action last over from captain Bates, after Candy had been bowled by England's Beth Langston (4-0-21-1) in the 19th.

With four runs from four balls required, Kate Broadmore was run out by Inglis — then Bates had Hayley Jensen caught for a golden duck off the penultimate ball of the match.

Needing three off the last ball against a WHITE FERNS superstar in a classic nailbiter, new batsman Natalie Cox responded brilliantly under pressure by finding the boundary for a stunning three-wicket, last-ball win.

The Sparks will seek retribution now in the One-Day format as the two teams meet again on Molyneux this Saturday and Sunday.

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