Sparks embracing challenge of playing the best

You either shrink from the challenge of facing the best.

Or you can embrace it.

The Otago Sparks are doing the latter today.

They are well aware a quality Wellington Blaze team awaits them at the University Oval today.

It is a side that has dominated the Super Smash, having won the past three titles and claimed three wins from its four games this season.

It boasts stars right throughout its line-up and they combine well to make an exceptional team.

But the opportunity to play against that quality is something the Sparks are looking forward to.

"You either fear taking good teams on or you get really excited," coach Craig Cumming said.

"Our girls are really excited about it.

"In some ways it’s low expectations and the pressure could be on them.

"So if we can do a whole lot of things right, we just want to push them and see how we get on."

The Sparks are coming into the match off two wins, the most recent coming in an impressive display in Dunedin against the Central Hinds last Friday.

They did well to hold the Hinds to 102 runs, before knocking them off with nearly five overs left.

That came on the back of a 43 not out from opening batter Polly Inglis.

However, it was the things the team had done that led to the result that pleased Cumming most.

It left the team with plenty of confidence, although it would need to do most of those little things right today.

The Blaze brings a quality line-up with both bat and ball.

Devastating batter Sophie Devine returns for her first game back in New Zealand after starring in Australia’s Big Bash.

Amelia Kerr is a dangerous spinner, who is also the competition’s second-leading run scorer, and Leigh Kasperek is also a quality spin bowler.

White Fern Maddy Green captains the team, while Jess Kerr and Thamsyn Newton also bring plenty of pedigree.

"For us it’s about making sure we’re very well planned, making sure we’ve got things in place that we know we can trust," Cumming said.

"But also knowing that we’re coming up against a very good side and it’s a really good chance for us to measure ourselves.

"We’re really looking forward to playing them.

"They’re the leaders. We’re going to have to do a whole lot of things right again, but it’s a great chance for us to experience that, for us to see where we’re at."

The game begins at 11.40am.

Super Smash

University Oval, today, 11.40am
Otago Sparks: Gemma Adams, Emma Black, Caitlin Blakely, Eden Carson, Millie 
Cowan, Olivia Gain, Polly Inglis, Bella James, Hayley Jensen, Marina Lamplough, 
Katey Martin, Sophie Oldershaw, Saffron Wilson.
Wellington Blaze: Maddy Green (c), Rebecca Burns, Sophie Devine, Xara Jetly, Leigh 
Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Caitlin King, Jess McFadyen, Thamsyn Newton, 
Georgia Plimmer, Maneka Singh.

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