Cricket: Sparks need double win to stay alive

The Otago Sparks have a slim chance of making the State League final if they can win their remaining two matches against the Central Hinds in Palmerston North this weekend and other results go their way.

Wellington has booked a place in the final with seven wins from eight matches.

It leads the competition with 32 points from Central with 23 points.

Otago is in fourth place with 15 points from eight matches, and Canterbury is on 20 points.

Northern Districts (8) and Auckland (6) are out of contention and will play off for the wooden spoon.

Canterbury can still make the final if it upsets Wellington in at least one of its back-to-back one-dayers this weekend and Central loses both matches to Otago.

Otago needs to win both matches and hope Canterbury loses one of its remaining games.

The odds are stacked against Otago. Central has been playing some good cricket this season and will go into the games as favourite.

Kate Broadmore and Abby Burrows have spearheaded the attack for Central, taking 25 wickets between them, and Sara McGlashan has been in excellent touch with the bat, scoring 281 runs at 40.14.

Rachel Priest has also been in good nick, scoring 193 runs at 32.16.

Otago has done well with the ball, with leg-spin bowler Emma Campbell having an excellent season. She has taken 20 wickets at 8.30.

Fellow spinner Tanya Morrison has also been in good form, with 10 wickets at 14.

But where Otago has struggled is with the bat.

Skipper Sarah Tsukigawa has scored 216 runs at 30.85, but aside from her the rest of the line-up has struggled.

White Fern Katey Martin has had a disappointing season by her standards, with one half century from seven innings, and dual cricket and basketball international Suzie Bates has also had a lean time, although she did score 89 in her last innings, against Northern Districts in Invercargill.

But the pair made up for some poor form yesterday with an outstanding opening partnership in a twenty/20 fixture against Central in Palmerston North.

Martin scored 94 from 65 deliveries, with Bates compiling an unbeaten 70 from 50 deliveries to help the Sparks win by six runs in a nail-biter.

The pair combined in a 160 first-wicket stand to guide the Sparks to 178 for two, but Rachel Priest and Sara McGlashan put on an equally impressive partnership of 103 as Central closed in on the target.

Bates claimed two wickets in the penultimate over, including the key wicket of Priest, to help seal the victory.

Otago 178/2 (Katey Martin 94, Suzie Bates 70, Kate Broadmore 1/28) Central 172/5 (Rachel Priest 83, Sara McGlashan 43, Bates 2/29).

Otago won by six runs.

State League

Otago Sparks (from): Sarah Tsukigawa (c), Suzie Bates, Kylie Crowley, Lucy Foote, Lisa Grant, Tessa Hopkinson, Abigail Kitchin, Megan Kane, Alana Kane, Katey Martin, Jo Meyer, Tanya Morrison, Ariana Te Wake, Clare Taylor (player-coach).

Central Hinds (from): Kate Broadmore, Abby Burrows, Rachel Candy, Michelle Frey, Lisa Hayes, Sara McGlashan, Zara McWilliams, Aimee Mason, Rachel Priest, Kelly Rangi, Courtney Sim, Kelly Sutherland, Kelly Winkley.

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