Sparks through to final after dominant win

Suzie Bates plays a shot on the way to 75 for the Otago Sparks against the Auckland Hearts in...
Suzie Bates plays a shot on the way to 75 for the Otago Sparks against the Auckland Hearts in today's Super Smash elimination final at the University Oval. Photo: Getty Images
Saturday was always going to be the big challenge.

The Otago Sparks will be glad to have navigated today's roadblock in convincing fashion, though.

Yet another quality Suzie Bates innings paved way for the team to brush aside the Auckland Hearts in today's Super Smash elimination final at the University Oval.

Bates hit the Auckland bowlers all around the ground to compile 75 runs, the major contributor in the Sparks total of 143 for five.

It set the platform for a 29-run win, booking a spot in Saturday's final against the unbeaten Wellington Blaze.

As they did two weeks ago in Auckland, Bates and Polly Inglis got the Sparks off to a strong start with the bat.

The pair put on 43 for the first wicket, Bates attacking aggressively and Inglis using her ability to play the ball behind the wicket.

However, unlike two weeks ago, the Hearts did breakthough.

Inglis had cut Molly Penfold into a gap to pick up a double.

She tried again the next ball, but this time edged one through to keeper Izzy Gaze to be out for 19.

Katey Martin joined Bates and the veteran duo showed their class.

Bates continued to bludge the bowling attack all-around, while Martin regularly found gaps in the Hearts' field.

It was Penfold that ended that partnership as well, as Martin tried to cut her over the top, but was caught on the boundary by Bella Armstrong for 17.

The Sparks had several other cameos, but it Bates that did the damage from there.

She kept the run rate high and had the team at 128 when she finally picked out Fran Jonas, while trying to innovate off Amie Hucker's bowling in the 18th over.

The total of 143 was likely going to be a tough total to chase.

That became even tougher for Auckland, when in-form opening batter mis-timed a shot off Emma Black and was caught by Olivia Gain for two.

The chase never really got going after that.

Sparks opening bowlers Black and Hayley Jensen restricted the Hearts to just 10 off four overs.

The run rate did not improve much as Otago began to change its bowlers and Auckland was at just 21 when Skye Bowden was bowled by Sophie Oldershaw in the seventh over.

At the 10 over mark the Hearts were just 42 for two, leaving them not even a third of their way to the target.

Katie Perkins hung around to make 24, but was run out as the Hearts looked to take a risk.

From there the Sparks cruised through, continuing to bowl tightly and taking a handful more wickets on the way to victory.

Arlene Kelly chipped in with a late 28, as Auckland finished well-short on 114 for six.

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