Katey Martin in action. ©ICC
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The Basin Reserve saw the Otago Sparks take on Wellington Blaze in a double-header, with the Volts scheduled to clash with the Firebirds later in the day. The Sparks emerged triumphant as Blaze fell 19 runs short of their target.

Batting first, the Sparks openers laid down a solid foundation for their side with their 39 run opening stand. M. Cowan set the tone for the first innings with her rapid 21-ball-28, before skipper Katey Martin strolled to the crease. Martin made light work of the opposition balls, battering the ball to all parts of the ground. She blasted her way to 64 off 46 deliveries. Her knock included eight fours and two sixes.

P. Inglis and A. Davidson-Richards chipped in with 22 and 17 respectively, while all other batters failed to reach double figures. After the start they had, the Sparks looked on their way to a daunting total, but a middle order collapse from 139-4 to 148-8 ensure they did not pass the 160 run mark. Instead, the Sparks were restricted to 150-8, a competitive total nonetheless.

For the Blaze, Amelia Kerr was particularly impressive with the ball. She claimed a 4-for, while conceding just 21 runs. Thamsyn Newton chipped in with two wickets as well, and D. Doughty and A. Evans claimed a scalp each.

In the second innings, R. Burns showed her teams intent early with her 16-ball-21. Soon after her wicket fell though, A. Kerr’s followed. Chasing 150, Blaze was reduced to 34-2. Lucy Doolan then steadied the innings. Combining with her skipper E. Perry, the two put on a 43 run partnership for the fourth wicket. Doolan played a more patient knock, scoring 27 off 31 balls, while Perry top-scored for her side with 31 off 26.

When Doolan departed, Blaze were 96-4, at the end of the 15th over, with Perry back in the shed as well. With the run rate over 10 an over now, the middle and lower order had to go hard. Under this pressure, many batters did not fire, with J. Kerr being the only one to offer some resistance with her quickfire 14 off six. Ultimately, Blaze fell 19 runs short of the total and the Sparks came away with the win.

For the Sparks, Leigh Kasperek was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets, but she proved expensive, getting hit for 36 runs. E. Carson took two wickets, while E. Black, Davidson-Richards and E. Brown claimed a scalp each.

Speaking to New Zealand Cricket post-match, Player-of-the-Match Martin, commented on her and her sides performance.

“I think it was a definite improvement from our last game,” she reflected. “We had to improve our fielding and we took all our chances today. I was really proud of the girls, against a really good Wellington side. I knew we were under pressure today, so happy with the win.”

Looking back at how her team had done with the bat over the course of the competition, and how it compared to today’s effort, Martin said, “We got off to a good start with two out. I though we did that really well. In our Twenty-20’s so far, we’ve always got off to a good start, so it was good to get 150+ on that wicket out there.”

In terms of the sides performance with ball, Martin added, “I thought we bowled a little fuller than we did the other day and we took our chances. In Twenty-20 cricket, getting a wicket really stifles momentum a bit and we did that really well today. We pushed the run rate up ane their batting order was under pressure from that point.”

As for her own batting performance, Martin commented, “Feels a bit scratchy at times. Pleased to contribute to the team and get a good score like that. Our top order is doing the job so far, which is what you need in Twenty-20 cricket.”

The only real threat the Sparks faces today was the wily bowling of kiwi leg-spinner Kerr. She did the most damage to the Sparks line-up, taking four wickets. “She’s a special player,” Martin praised her White Ferns teammate. “I think we played her reasonably well today, but four wickets, we’ll give her that. She’s a great player and I know there’s going to be plenty of wickets for her in the years to come.”

Lastly, Martin spoke of her teams chances of reaching the finals, saying, “Reality is that we’ve got to win the rest of our games to get in the final. Whilst you’d like to be in a better position- and a win in the last game would have put us in quite a nice position- we’re realistic about where we’re and what we need to do. We’ve just got to win from here on and see what happens after that.”