The crunch went on the Auckland Hearts as the final spot in the 2017 T20 Final went on the line — up against the top of the table, unbeaten Canterbury Magicians, at home.
The Hearts were the next best-placed team, but still needed the win to be assured of joining the Mags in the Grand Final. Captain Vic Lind did her bit by winning the toss then newly recalled WHITE FERN Anna Peterson made a cracking start on the run tally, falling just a fingertip shy of a quick fifty at the top.
Peterson had smashed her first six off Lea Tahuhu in the sixth over, then gave Thamsyn Newton the same treatment to open the 10th, the Hearts 80 without loss at the halfway mark.
Lauren Down had been running at run-a-ball pace on 25 and Peterson was just one more solid blow away from a racy fifty, but the second half started well for the Magicians with captain Frances McKay trapping Peterson on 48 next ball.
Down was joined by Sara McGlashan but from 115 for three at the three-quarter mark, the boundaries began to dry up as wickets toppled regularly across the back 10, skipper Lind run out off the last ball going for the obligatory return run as her side reached 145 for seven, Magician Jacinta Savage coming back on in the 16th over and then finishing with a bang, collecting a career best 4-26.\
That set the Mags a target of more than seven per over from the outset, Frances Mackay and Amy Satterthwaite (taking the lion’s share of the strike) pacing the early stages of the chase through the power play. Together they had put the first 50 on the scoreboard off 47 balls, then reached the midway mark needing exactly 80 more.
Young Bella Armstrong was meanwhile hunting her maiden T20 wicket and bowling well through the middle. But the Canterbury machine went rolling on, Mackay racing ahead to be on the cusp of a half century when Peterson finally broke the opening stand on 89 in the 13th over.
Satterthwaite, on 30, was joined by Thamsyn Newton with another 57 runs needed at seven per over. A single to Newton, and then — Satterthwaite gone as well off the next ball she had faced. Peterson had done the trick: she had 2-2 off her first over, the Mags now 91/2 after 13.
Kate Ebrahim (née Broadmore) brought plenty of experience to the crease as Lind turned to Maddy Green at the other end.
Peterson struck again to claim Newton in the 15th as the Hearts elbowed their way back in. Rachel Candy and Ebrahim kept the score ticking for Canterbury, but the run pressure was beginning to mount and, by the time Green trapped Candy in the 18th, the required run rate was heading towards double figures.
Ebrahim responded with a six off Peterson, then a four next ball en route to a massive, in the circumstances, 13 off the 19th over. Now just six was needed from the last, Holly Huddleston charged with trying to stop the Magicians from going unbeaten through the regular season, bowling to Lea Tahuhu.
Single. Leg bye. This was going down to the wire.
Single. Dot. Now they needed three from two.
Two. Score level, one ball to come. And….
Single! Ebrahim had done it, finished the match unbeaten on 25 from 28, defending champions the Magicians heading undefeated to another home Grand Final. The Hearts would now wait on the other results of the afternoon to confirm if they would be joining them next weekend. Sadly for the Hearts, they would be edged into third by the Otago Sparks on net run rate, setting up an all-southern Grand Final.