Cricket: Fine win not enough to make final

Otago Sparks all-rounder Sarah Tsukigawa (left) is congratulated by skipper Suzie Bates after taking a sharp caught and bowled chance yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Otago Sparks all-rounder Sarah Tsukigawa (left) is congratulated by skipper Suzie Bates after taking a sharp caught and bowled chance yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The Otago Sparks timed their run to perfection yesterday, getting home by seven wickets against the Northern Spirit at the University Oval.

The win by the home side, which came in the final over, was its third of the competition but it was not quite enough to get it into the final of the twenty/20 competition.

Canterbury was the clear winner of the round-robin part of the competition, going through unbeaten. Wellington was four points ahead of Otago before the final round of games yesterday and the best Otago could do was to draw level. Because the side from the capital had a vastly better run rate it would have had to suffer a massive loss for Otago to get up and pip it for second.

That did not happen as, although Wellington lost to Auckland, it was only in the final over and not by a large enough margin.

Otago though should be proud of its efforts in the shortest version of the game with a good team effort getting it home yesterday. It fielded well and bowled accurately enough.

The hero with the ball yesterday was allrounder Sarah Tsukigawa who took four of the wickets to fall with her handy medium-pacers.

She then batted well with Katey Martin and helped set up the victory which occurred with four balls to spare.

Northern had started well, its two openers Anna Peterson and Katie Tomlinson putting together a solid stand of 68 before Peterson was well caught by Nicole Bolton, off Tsukigawa.

Tomlinson was dismissed shortly after, when Tsukigawa took a screamer off her own bowling.

The Northern effort rather fell away then and it could score only eight runs off the final two overs, as Bolton bowled a tidy last over. It ended up on 125 for six.

In reply, the Otago openers put on 58 before Tsukigawa was bowled by the final ball of the 10th over.

Martin and captain Suzie Bates continued the momentum but they were both dismissed by Brooke Kirkbride, who bowled well when the pressure was on.

A couple of lofty blows from Bolton helped Otago get on the front foot and it came to the final over needing five runs to win.

A no-ball by Ailsha Rout with four runs needed all but gave the game to Otago and Bolton deflected the ball for two to give the home side victory.

The sides shift to Brooklands in Mosgiel to play two 50-over games over the next couple of days.

Otago is right in the hunt to make the one-day final and if it can win both games, it will be highly likely to make the final.