2020/21 OPENING DAY
Wellington Blaze lost to Northern Districts by two wickets (DLS)
Basin Reserve, Wellington
21 November 2020
The first match of summer for these two sides got off to an unorthodox start with the match delayed by a couple of hours due to travel hiccups.
Northern Districts' roadie from Hamilton hadn't gone to plan with the van breaking down in Turangi, so the start time was revised to noon and the 50-overs contest reduced to 43 overs per team.
ND captain Felicity Leydon-Davis won the toss and put the Blaze in at the Basin but the hosts made a sound start with the bat.
Rebecca Burns and Jess McFadyen constructed a 73-run stand for the opening wicket but, after Leydon-Davis broke through in the 17th over, they were both back in the R. A. Vance Stand after falling within eight balls of each other.
From there, a clump of wickets made Blaze's job harder. Charlotte Sarsfield picked up her second wicket in skipper Thamsyn Newton before a runout accounted for Georgia Plimmer who also departed without scoring.
First drop Caitlin King tried to reestablish some momentum in her 32-run stand with Maneka Singh who top-scored with 37. But it was tough going for the lower order as partnerships were nipped off just as they were starting to flourish.
Twenty-four extras helped push the capital tally up to 169/7. Now Spirit needed to find just under four an over, and they made a spirited start thanks to the free-scoring Katie Gurrey (41 off 59).
Opening partner Brooke Halliday had been lost in the fourth over after a quick 13, but when the prolific Gurrey and Leydon-Davis both fell in quick succession to Beth Molony (3-25) after a 45-stand for the second, Blaze had a real opportunity to get back in the hunt.
It was a real arm-wrestle of a match, the relatively inexperienced pair of Makayla Templeton and Olivia Lobb fighting back with a 33-run stand for the fifth that helped put Northern's chase back on track just as it started to wobble a bit under the required clip.
ND had needed 54 runs off the last 10 overs with six in hand, but the dangerous arm of Newton stopped Templeton in her tracks on 21 at a key moment, ND 124/5 with 45 runs still to be found.
Capable youngster Lobb needed to stay composed as the chase boiled down to a run-a-ball target off the last six overs - meanwhile she'd also lost Lucy Boucher, stumped by Blaze debutante wicketkeeper Antonia Hamilton after a quick 15.
Blaze kept fighting with the ball as Jetly picked up two - including Lobb - while Molony picked up her third, all in a dramatic three death overs.
Meanwhile Boucher was finding the boundary until her side needed just nine runs off nine balls with two wickets remaining.
Newton brought herself on for the last over to take responsibility, Northern still needing to find four runs.
A single to Boucher (now 32* off just 31 balls) put new batsman Lauren Heaps on strike. Dot. Then Heaps ticked the strike back over to Boucher.
Two runs off three balls needed now and Boucher sent it straight to the boundary to seal a thrilling two-wicket win (DLS) with just two balls to spare, Boucher finishing unbeaten with 36 not out off 32 balls.