Sparks clinch a home HBJ Final


Round 10

Sunday 18 February 2024

University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

OTAGO SPARKS beat AUCKLAND HEARTS by 6 wickets - bonus point win

Otago Sparks : 5 points

Auckland Hearts : 0 points


Selected milestones

Caitlin Blakely 100 List A game (all for Otago Sparks)


After having headed into the weekend in third spot - and fighting for survival, the Otago Sparks made it two out of two over the Auckland Hearts to snatch the last spot in Sunday's Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Final, in which they will host defending champion Wellington Blaze in Dunedin.

Meanwhile, it was a gutting case of déjà vu for the Aucklanders.

Sparks captain Felicity Robertson elected to bowl first and was rewarded by another class performance from opening dangerwoman Emma Black - who ended the regular season as the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 21 wickets at an average of 11.76.​

Black got some swing to york Saachi Shahri at 20/1, before coming back at 113/6 with three more victims to help mop up the tail.

Meanwhile youngster Molly Loe was on target, returning a mean 3/20 off her seven overs and accounting for the wickets of Cate Pedersen (38), Prue Catton (4) and eventually, Rishika Jaswal to put the Hearts on the brink of being bowled out in the 41st over.

But the biggest wicket was that of Hearts captain Maddy Green, a one-woman matchwinner who had made such an impact for her team in the early stages of the camapign.

Fellow WHITE FERN Eden Carson got a big decision in the 15th over when appealed successfully for an LBW, Green having to make her way back for just 12 at 61/2.

The tweaker went on to 2/36 as the Sparks bowled out the Hearts for 144 in 40.1.

The Hearts had headed into their final weekend in Dunedin second on the table, and the Sparks had needed a perfect weekend to stop Blaze from qualifying top.

Even a regular win today would have seen the Sparks and Blaze finish on equal points, and Blaze still qualifying top with more wins on the countback.

But the Sparks, when they get going, are a dangerous unit. Long gone are the days when they struggled to make finals and for player depth, and with the experience of Suzie Bates and Felicity Robertson, they knew exactly what they needed to do under pressure.

Bates took control of the chase at the top, finishing with a top score of 63 before she departed at 124/4 in the 29th over.

It was a third wicket for Molly Penfold, but by then it was all over bar the shouting. The Sparks secured their bonus point when Robertson (22* off 26) guided the winning single away in the 33rd over, and the Hearts were officially gone.

The Final would now be a rematch of the 2021/22 Hallyburton Johnstone Shield decider in Queenstown - and the Sparks famously won that one, too.






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