Inexperienced Sparks put up decent fight in loss to Hinds

Nathan King
Nathan King
Otago Sparks coach Nathan King gave his side two out of three for its effort against Central Districts in Levin on Saturday.

Central won the match by 73 runs but an inexperienced Sparks line-up put up a decent fight.

Emma Black shone with three wickets. Leg-spinner Sophie Oldershaw's two for 28 was an excellent return and wicketkeeper-batsman Sophie Gray made a good impression in her debut. She took a catch, effected a stumping and top-scored with 36.

"When you lose it is never the result you are hoping for," King said.

"But it is about showing signs of improvement and if we still don't win you have to take that on the chin.

"The bowling and fielding was a really good effort first up, I thought. To keep them under 200 was a good result."

The Hinds won the previous game between the teams by more than 200 runs, so the Sparks have certainly made progress.

The batting was disappointing, though. Gray was one of the exceptions and captain Bella James chipped in with 24. New cap Bhagya Herath was the next best with 17.

The Sparks were rolled for just 125 in reply to 198. White Fern Rosemary Mair took three for 21 from 10 tight overs, and spinner Jess Watkin's one for 11 from 10 overs was a tremendous spell.

The target was very gettable but King acknowledged his side has some work to do with the bat.

"Chasing that many you have to be able to back yourself but we do have an inexperienced batting line-up.

"If you add up the number of times players have scored more than 50 at this level, you could count it on one hand.

"So you're really asking a couple of players to step up and do something they haven't done in the past."

New recruit Hayley Jensen has five half-centuries to her name but she missed out with the bat in her Otago debut. The former Canterbury player was undone on four but did snaffle a couple of wickets.

The team was meant to play again yesterday but the match was abandoned due to poor weather.

In the other games, Canterbury and Northern Districts shared the spoils in Christchurch. Northern won the match on Saturday by five wickets but Canterbury bounced back to win yesterday's fixture by 29 runs.

Wellington dispatched Auckland by 66 runs in game one but was edged by nine runs in the capital yesterday.

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