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Sophie Devine survived a touch-and-go run out decision from the third umpire in the first over. She went on to smash an unbeaten 108 off 38 balls to give the three-time defending champion Wellington Blaze a 10-wicket win.
Her century came in a Super Smash record 36 balls, beating Tim Seifert’s 40 ball record for both men and women.
It was also a world record for the fastest women’s twenty20 century, beating Deandra Dottin’s 38-ball effort for the West Indies in 2010.
The devastating display included nine sixes, rendered short work of the Sparks’ total of 128.
To say the run out decision was the difference would be a stretch — there was plenty of quality to come in the Blaze order.
But it certainly did not make things easy.
Sparks captain Katey Martin said the team remained upbeat, simply acknowledging the classy performance.
‘‘Yeah, look, she’s one of the best batters in the world,’’ she said.
‘‘It was a good spectacle for others to watch, not necessarily our team.
‘‘We just didn’t bowl in the areas we would’ve wanted to her.
‘‘She’s a world class player and sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat and say ‘well batted; you got beaten by one player today’.’’
She had not seen the run out and while knowing it was tight, she said it was important to trust the umpires.
The Sparks started well and set themselves up for a competitive total.
They did well to protect their wickets and built two key partnerships through the start and middle of their innings.
Openers Millie Cowan and Polly Inglis put on 46 runs for the opening stand.
Cowan’s run-a-ball 29 included four boundaries, as she slapped the ball around the ground.
Inglis showed nice touch with the late cut, scoring well through the third-man region.
Both openers fell in quick succession, in the ninth and 10th overs, to spinners Leigh Kasperek and Amelia Kerr.
That brought Martin and Hayley Jensen together and they put on 63 runs through the middle.
They kept the score ticking over, although perhaps had a few too many dot balls.
They remained at the crease before looking to accelerate in the final four overs, Martin reaching 27, while Jensen top-scored with 36 off 25 balls.
That left the Sparks at 121 for four, but they were able to add just seven runs in their final 11 balls.
Martin thought another 20 runs could have made for a competitive total.
However, the way Devine was striking the ball, restricting Wellington was always going to be tough.
She appeared to have her bat on the crease line as the stumps were broken after going for a second run in the first over of the Wellington innings.
However, she was given the benefit of the doubt.
From there she took full advantage, showing all her power and timing.
The Sparks next play on Monday against the Central Hinds in New Plymouth.