Sparks unable to recover from poor start against Hearts

Auckland dispatched Otago by five wickets to seal a spot in the final against Wellington in the capital on Sunday.

The Sparks could muster only 120 for seven in the elimination final at Eden Park Outer Oval yesterday.

The modest target did not present the home team with much of a challenge at all.

Opener and captain Anna Peterson clubbed an unbeaten 57 in a 94-run stand for the opening wicket with Lauren Down.

Peterson middled everything, especially the waist-high full toss from Emma Black.

It sailed for six and the bowler had to bowl the ball again.

When Down eventually holed out for 37, the game was effectively over as a contest.

The Hearts stumbled on their way to the victory podium, though. Katie Perkins (0) received a poor lbw decision and Regina Lili'i (0) was needlessly run out.

Bella Armstrong tried to finish the game early and was caught in the deep for 13, and Hannah Darlington yorked Saachi Shahri for a duck.

The flurry of wickets came much too late for Otago.

Fittingly, it was Peterson who hit the winning run with more than three overs to spare.

The Sparks lost both front wheels and one at the back before they had backed the car out of the driveway.

They wobbled their way through the rest of an underwhelming innings.

Star batsman Suzie Bates (5) went first.

She pulled a short delivery from Holly Huddleston out to Lili'i, who made good ground from deep square-leg to take the catch at midwicket.

Her departure lowered the Sparks’ expectations and they dropped again when form opener Millie Cowan sliced a catch to cover on 15.

Veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Katey Martin made an uncharacteristic error on five when she tried a squeeze a full delivery from Armstrong through point.

The ball floated comfortably under her bat and clattered into the stumps instead.

The Sparks had slumped to 35 for three and had plenty of work remaining to post any sort of a target.

Australian import Amanda-Jade Wellington looked in good touch on her way to 15.

But she pulled out a reverse sweep and the umpire was convinced she was out
lbw.

The delivery from 15-year-old left arm spinner Fran Jonas may well have struck outside off.

Unlucky, perhaps, but a reckless shot from Wellington in the circumstances.

All the pressure fell on Hayley Jensen and Darlington to carry the side through to a competitive title.

The boundary was proving elusive.

But the pair collected ones and twos and the odd shot did reach the rope.

The partnership had netted 40 runs from 40 deliveries when Darlington was caught for a run-a-ball 21.

Jensen top-scored with 41 not out in an innings which was more valiant than fluent.

 

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