Chasing just 121, Watkin and Natalie Dodd (49 not out) made 109 runs for the second wicket, after the loss of skipper Erin Cunningham, to romp home in 16.3 overs. The win lifted Hinds over Otago Sparks on net run rate and into fifth on the table.
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The Hearts were in early trouble losing both their openers Anna Peterson and Lauren Down for an identical one. Things turned worse for them when Bella Armstrong also perished for just seven as the Hearts were reeling at 14 for 3 in the fourth over.
However, it was Katie Perkins (34) and Holly Huddleston’s (37 not out) knocks that propelled them to 120 for 5 in 20 overs. Hannah Rowe took 2/26 while Ashtuti Kumar took 1/23 to keep the opposition in check.
“I’ve struggled to score runs all season so it was nice to have nine lives, but it felt pretty good out there,” Watkin was quoted as saying to Spark Sport. “I always love batting with Doddy, she’s always so calm and composed. I felt pretty bad leaving her on 49, but that’s how cricket goes.”
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The third-placed Hearts will now have to wait and see how the first-placed Wellington Blaze fare over the next two days when they host the Sparks and the second-placed Magicians. The matches will determine who finishes first and advance straight to the grand final.
Brief scores: Auckland Hearts 120/5 (Holly Huddelston 37*, Katie Perkins 34; Hannah Rowe 2/26) lost to Central Hinds 122/1 in 16.3 overs (Jess Watkin 68*, Natalie Dodd 49*) by nine wickets.