Allround Leigh Kasperek powers Wellington Blaze to atop the league table

Wellington Blaze players celebrate a wicket. © Stuff.co.nz

Leigh Kasperek (4/16 & 20 not out) shone with the ball and later with the bat to help Wellington Blaze beat Northern Spirit by five wickets in the ongoing Super Smash T20 at Basin Reserve in Wellington on Saturday (January 9). The win put Blaze back to the top of the charts ahead of Spirit on net run rate.

Electing to bat first, Spirit didn’t have the start they would have wanted losing both the openers Kate Anderson (17) and Brooke Halliday (three) within the powerplay. Caitlin Gurrey and Irish international Eimear Richardson (30) took the responsibility to resurrect the innings with an important 38-run third-wicket partnership.

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However, the partnership which was looking dangerous at one time was finally broken by Kasperek when she had Gurrey holing out to Rebecca Burns for 11. Spirit lost two more quick wickets in Richardson and Lucy Boucher (11) while Kasperek had Nensi Patel and Alisha Rout, both stumped by wicketkeeper Jess McFadyen as they finished at 100 for 8 in 20 overs.

In the chase, Blaze lost Amelia Kerr early in the first over itself before useful individual contributions from Maddy Green (23), Burns (24), Kasperek and Thamsyn Newton (20) saw them home. Burns and Green gave the early impetus with a 29-run second-wicket partnership before Kasperek joined Green to add 25 runs for the next wicket.

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The off-spinner Kasperek then teamed up with Newton for a 40-run fourth-wicket partnership before romping home in 17 overs. The last time these two teams met on New Year’s Day, Spirit brought the defending champions’ 16-match winning streak to an end in a thriller that went down to the final ball.

Brief scores: Northern Spirit 100/8 in 20 overs (Eimear Richardson 30; Leigh Kasperek 4/16, Jess Kerr 2/21) lost to Wellington Blaze 102/5 in 17 overs (Rebecca Burns 24; Lucy Boucher 3/17) by five wickets.

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