Jensen, Blakely help Sparks down Spirit in rain-hit clash

Hayley Jensen in action for Otago Sparks. © Getty Images

A steady run-chase in the Super Smash saw Otago Sparks register a six-wicket win, via DLS method, handing Northern Spirit their first loss this season on Saturday (January 2) at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

A delayed start due to rain saw the match being reduced to 16 overs-a-side before another mid-innings interruptions made it a 13 overs-a-side contest. Sparks inserted Spirit in and saw them get off to a positive start. Brooke Halliday was at the fore of it, using all the pace that was on offer on a track, where change of pace and slower ones were more effective.

Halliday lost Kate Anderson (one) early in the piece but, in the company of Katie Gurrey (22) added 54 for the second wicket. The left-hander fell for 37 after the second rain interruption, which also saw the Sparks bowlers reduce the pace in the bowling, thereby making it tough for the batters.

Eimear Richardson, who walked in at four, finished unbeaten on 20 off just 15 balls, helping her team post 97 for four at the end of 13 overs and set a revised target of 102 for Sparks, courtesy the DLS method.

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The start to the chase wasn’t the best as Sparks lost Millie Cowan for five in the third over and then Polly Inglis (12) in the fourth. They were two down for 31 after five overs and soon lost captain Katey Martin for 11 to be reeling at three for 33.

Then came the crucial fourth-wicket stand between Hayley Jensen and Caitlin Blakely. The duo found the occasional boundary while regularly running well between the wickets to keep the chase on track. The 52-run alliance ended when Lauren Heaps (one for 15) got rid of Jensen for a 17-ball 32.

However, Blakely’s unbeaten 32 ensured that Sparks overhaul the target with six wickets in the bank.

Brief Scores: Northern Spirit 97/4 in 13 overs (Brooke Halliday 37) lost to Otago Sparks 103/4 in 12.2 overs (Hayley Jensen 32, Caitlin Blakely 32*) by six wickets (DLS method).