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Northern Districts lost three wickets in the last over with the scores tied.
No10 Carolyn Esterhuizen missed the next two deliveries before dispatching a drive over the top of cover to seal a dramatic one-wicket win from the last ball against Otago at the University of Otago Oval yesterday.
Kate Anderson struck a match-winning 102 before she ran herself out in that bizarre final over.
Otago all-rounder Hayley Jensen smashed 83 from 57 balls, took five for 40 and effected two run outs.
Her team-mate, Millie Cowan, blasted 77 and the Northern Districts pair of Caitlin Gurrey and Felicity Leydon-Davis also notched half centuries.
The game had it all.
While the Sparks narrowly missed out on a win, coach Nathan King was thrilled with his side’s improvement.
They posted 271 for seven, which was a improvement on the 125 they managed a day earlier against the same opponent.
‘‘We just weren’t able to take wickets during the middle stages and Kate Anderson played well from ball one,’’ King said.
‘‘Ideally we would have scored a few more runs in the last 10 overs. But to post that score after [Saturday’s] effort was a massive improvement.
‘‘We’ve said we want to be judged on the improvement we show but it would have been nice to have won.’’
Dual hockey and cricket representative Cowan and Caitlin Blakely set a nice platform for Otago.
Blakely was steady, adding 33 from 65 before she was bowled by Lauren Heaps.
Cowan had been the aggressor and she kept up the pressure when Blakely departed, scampering through to 50 off 53 balls.
She was joined at the wicket by Jensen, who was also in an attack-first mindset. She top-scored in Saturday’s nine-wicket loss to Northern Districts and picked up where she left off with some crisp striking.
The damaging 83-run stand was finally broken when Cowan swung and missed on 77.
At 166 for three with 20 overs left, Otago was well-placed to push on towards 300.
Jensen appeared to be powering them towards that kind of a score as well. She hit nine fours and a six before offering a catch at long on.
With her departure the boundaries dried up but the Sparks still set a challenging target.
Otago made a tidy start with the ball through Jensen and Emma Black.
But talented opener Gurrey started to strike the ball with more authority.
She struck an undefeated 80 on Saturday and was easing through the gear changes ominously before holing out on 52.
It was a big breakthrough but Otago failed to take advantage. Some poor bowling helped Felicity Leydon-Davis and Anderson keep pace with the run rate.
They put on 79 and got their side into a healthy spot.
The Sparks were late to react but a bowling change brought reward. Jensen made a double breakthrough.
She trapped Leydon-Davis for 60 and Eimear Richardson hoofed a foot down the wicket as well and was gone for 14.
It was left to Anderson to guide her side past the target. The 23-year-old right-hander was run out going for the winning run.
However, it was a tremendous knock. Her 100 came off just 73 balls and included 12 boundaries.
In the other games, Central Districts beat Wellington by 44-runs in the Capital on Saturday but yesterday’s match was rained off. Auckland secured back-to-back wins against Canterbury at Eden Park Outer Oval.