Sparks short-circuit as Blaze takes fast wickets

Otago Sparks player Emma Black gets ready to roll her arm over against Wellington at the...
Otago Sparks player Emma Black gets ready to roll her arm over against Wellington at the University of Otago Oval yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Well-beaten but some resistance towards the end, the Otago Sparks were unable to claim a win in their final matches of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield over the weekend.

They were beaten by nine wickets and 131 in their matches against the Wellington Blaze at the University Oval.

The Blaze had the significant upper hand on both occasions.

However, a 135-run partnership between Caitlin Blakely and Bella James yesterday provided a high point for a side that has struggled for runs.

Saturday’s match was reduced to 22 overs as rain disrupted proceedings. The Sparks were 11 without loss when the first downpour came and after a lengthy break, the damage followed. Maneka Singh claimed the wickets of Blakely and James in the space of three balls.

Sophie Gray was dismissed an over later to leave the Sparks struggling at 16 for three.

Olivia Gain and Eden Carson put on 30, before Gain was out for 14 and another mini-collapse followed.

Carson and Marina Lamplough both hit 20, the latter unbeaten to help the Sparks to 82 for seven.

However, Wellington chased the Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 90 with ease.

Jess McFayden top-scored with 35 not out, while Emma Black claimed the Sparks’ only wicket as the Blaze won with nine overs to spare.

McFayden was the star again yesterday.

She pummelled the Sparks bowlers in scoring 153 off 130 balls.

Opening partner Rebecca Burns joined her in a 138-run opening stand, scoring 72 off 65 before being stumped by Gray off the bowling of Carson.

That laid the platform for a big score and Thamsyn Newton added a near run-a-ball 46.

Carson and Megan Meltzer both managed two wickets each, although the damage was done early and Sparks found themselves chasing 328.

After losing Gain early, the Sparks showed some fight in Blakely and James’ partnership.

While the run rate was never high enough to chase the total, it was a show of steel from the Sparks’ top-order.

They took Otago to 137 when James was dismissed by spinner Xara Jetly for 60.

Blakely continued to graft and remained unbeaten on 75.

However, her partners came and went and only Carson managed double figures with 17, as the side was bowled out for 198.

Jetly claimed two more scalps to finish with figures of three for 35, while Natasha Codyre also took three herself later.


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