Sophie Devine made short work of a small chase. MButcher/NZC

Trouble at home for defending champs


Otago Sparks v Wellington Blaze at University of Otago Oval, Dunedin, 1 December 2017


Defending champions Otago Sparks will head into ROUND THREE on 27 December yet to get on the board after having been defeated by a slick all-round performance from early pacesetters Wellington Blaze. 

Blaze restricted Suzie Bates's Sparks to just 91 for seven with both fired-up fielding and tight bowling, leg-spinner Deanna Doughty (2-15) again making a strong impact at the top while WHITE FERN Amelia Kerr (3-16) combined with her elder sister Jess to shut down the remainder of the Sparks' innings, England international Beth Langston's unbeaten 42 off 36 balls the only score of note.

Beth Langston spared some of the Sparkies' blushes. PHOTOSPORT

Hard-hitting star Sophie Devine (50) opened the chase in typically aggressive fashion, blasting her half century off just 31 balls to put table-topping and unbeaten Blaze well on the road to a crushing eight-wicket victory with 7.3 overs to spare.

It was a sobering result for the southerners after Bates had won the toss and chosen to bat, the Blaze continuing to show the high standard of fielding that defined their opening round victories, Jess Kerr and Rachel Priest notably having combined to run out Bates early doors, a huge blow to the hosts.

While Jess Kerr was miserly in going for just seven runs off her four overs, it was young sis Amelia who claimed the wickets, three through the middle order as the Sparks built partnerships around Langston's fine innings.

With a top three of Rachel Priest, Sophie Devine and Lucy Doolan, defending a double-digit total was always going to be a tall order for the home side, and so it proved. Priest and the returning Devine hit 55 in a rapid opening stand, Devine dismissed when the scores were tied.

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