A breakthrough knock for Bella James | PHOTOSPORT

Maiden century for Bella James

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Round 5 for Central Hinds | Round 6 for Otago Sparks

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Saxton Oval, Nelson

CENTRAL HINDS lost to OTAGO SPARK by 37 runs

Points this round: Sparks 4, Hinds 0


Selected milestones

Flora Devonshire - List A debut

Kerry Tomlinson - 150th List A match

Kate Ebrahim, Bella James - record 1st wicket partnership in matches for Otago v Central

Bella James - maiden List A century

Caitlin Blakely - career best List A bowling

The Otago Sparks continued their love affair with Nelson's Saxton Oval, taking a 37-run one-day victory over the Central Hinds - backing up the previous day's Dream11 Super Smash win over the same team, and following on from their twin Hallyburton Johnstone Shield wins in October 2021 when the teams first met in the first women's Domestic one-dayers at this stunning venue.

Those are the only three Hallyburton Johnstone Shield matches to have now been played at Saxton Oval and each time the visitors have walked off victorious after dramatically outplaying their hosts.

On this occasion, a massive 180-run opening stand set up a handy win for the midtable defending champions, after captain Felicity Leydon-Davis had won the toss and batted in the Nelson sunshine with a fast outfield at her team's disposal.

It was a special day for Otago opening batter Bella James as she set the early pace - and carried on to her maiden century in either format for her team in a solid two-hour knock that wore the Hinds down.

Just days away from her 24th birthday, James got an early present as she posted her maiden century, reaching 101 in the meaty opening wicket stand with the rock Kate Ebrahim (below).

The pair set up a strong total of 272/5, James maintaining the pace as she reached her half century off 66 balls and going on to a special ton off 118 balls, including nine boundaries.

Leg-spinner Georgia Atkinson finally prised the pair apart in the 38th over, at 180/1. But Ebrahim, no stranger to a big score at Saxton Oval, carried on into the 42nd over on the hot afternoon for her 81 off 119.

None of the Hinds attack had been overly expensive but the lack of a breakthrough had been costly and demoralising, most of the damage done before a late flurry at the end.

Young spinner Ashtuti Kumar finished with 3-48, denying Ebrahim a seventh List A century herself.

The Central Hinds faced a stiff chase after lunch.

Captain Natalie Dodd top-scored in reply with 83 off 91 at the top - continuing a solid run of form after three Dream11 Super Smash half centuries in her last four T20 innings, with her trademark elegance and sweet timing.

She had suport from first drop Atkinson who chimed in with 40, but as the Sparks began to chip out regular wickets, the Hinds came under pressure and, while Dodd's form was strong, the early exit of Jess Watkin was a big blow again.

Caitlin Blakely edged her previous one-day best haul of 4-48 with 4-45, and was ably supported by leg-spinner Sophie Oldershaw's 3-45 as Oldershaw wrapped up the victory in the 47th.

The win pushed the Sparks up to equal points with Northern Districts on the points table, the Sparks now just two points behind Wellington Blaze and six points behind leaders the Canterbury Magicians - with four rounds in hand, and a maximum of five points available per match.

Only the top two teams will progress to the national Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Grand Final on March 4, the Sparks hungry to be there once more.

All images: PHOTOSPORT

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