Otago Sparks lost to Wellington Blaze by 49 runs (DLS)
Centennial Park, Oamaru
Sunday 6 February 2022
After a washout on the previous day, both the Otago Sparks and Wellington Blaze were keen to see action and extend their position in this top-of-table clash in Oamaru.
For the Sparks, the match represented their last chance to safeguard their position on the table, being their last of the regular season; while Wellington Blaze still had a weekend in hand at home against the Central Hinds.
The Hinds were one of two sides, along with Northern Districts, who could yet overtake the Sparks and knock them out of the top two qualifying spots ahead of the Grand Final.
But it wasn’t the Sparks’ day as the Wellington Blaze picked up where they left off after their Dream11 Super Smash title - even after the exodus of almost all their WHITE FERNS.
Two experienced players who had missed the cut for the World Cup squad, Kate Ebrahim for the Sparks and Leigh Kasperek for the Blaze, now had an important role to play for their fresh-look Domestic sides, facing off at the crunch business end of the season.
The Sparks had two debutantes in Otago Under-19 reps Chloe Deerness and Paige Loggenberg, as Ebrahim took over the captaincy duties and chose to bowl first in a rain-shortened match of 33 overs per side.
Eden Carson (2-28) picked up an early wicket but the Sparks had their work cut out as Jess McFadyen settled in at the top for an unbeaten knock of 76 not out.
McFadyen anchored the Blaze’s 159/7, sharing a good third-wicket partnership with Georgia Plimmer (a run-a-ball 38) to create stability for the visitors after they were sent in.
Saffron Wilson eventually separated the pair when Plimmer was stumped in the 22nd over, and went on to quickly rustle up a three-for, striking twice in the over as Thamsyn Newton was bowled.
The total set the Sparks a run chase of some five an over, but the hosts couldn’t find the same traction against a fired-up Kasperek (3-22) and the mercurial Xara Jetly (3-19).
When Kasperek went head to head with Ebrahim, the Wellington spinner eventuallly won the battle as Ebrahim was caught on 31 at 101/7.
By that stage, the Sparks had needed almost nine an over, and the veteran allrounder’s power and experience was effectively their last hope.
Blaze wrapped it up quickly after that, the Sparks all out for 110 in a heavy 49-run loss.
The Blaze is now on the brink of qualification for the 2022 Grand Final, while the Sparks face a nervous wait next weekend when the chasing teams make their final push.
The other two scheduled matches on this day were washout out, the Hinds/Hearts and ND/Canterbury splitting the points.
Wellington Blaze (8 rounds) 28 points
Otago Sparks (10 rounds - regular season complete) 25 points
Central Hinds (8 rounds) 18 points
Northern Districts (8 rounds) 18 points
Canterbury Magicians (8 rounds) 10 points
Auckland Hearts (6 rounds) 4 points