After grabbing a significant win over frontrunners the Blaze in the morning, the Otago Sparks needed to back up against the less consistent Northern Spirit in their afternoon round on Friday in Lincoln.
Instead, Spirit sent the southerners straight back to last place, with no hope left of defending the national NZC Women’s Twenty20 title that they so excitingly won for the first time last year.
The Sparks have paid dearly for an inconsistent season both with and without their top stars, Suzie Bates and Katey Martin both crucial early wickets on this occasion with right-arm spinner Carolyn Estherhuizen picking up the WHITE FERNS captain in just the fourth over, then adding Morna Nielsen’s wicket a few balls later.
With Martin’s departure next over leaving the Sparks at 42 for three, it was over to internationals Beth Langston and Leigh Kasperek (below) to come up with a quick rescue plan to keep the runs coming, WHITE FERN Kasperek continuing her good all-round form this summer with a top score of 38 at a touch over run-a-ball pace.
After Langston was run out on 14, Polly Inglis added a valuable 22 before the pair fell in the 17th and 18th overs respectively, allowing Spirit’s bowlers to attack the tail and send the southerners into a tailspin to finish with 137 for eight, South African Estherhuizen profiting with 4-31 and Alisha Rout having built good pressure with a tidy one for 19.
Northern powerhouse Bernadine Bezuidenhout then got the chase off to an explosive start with 62 of just 39 balls, finding the boundary 11 times.
With captain Nat Dodd (below) she slathered on an opening stand of 81 inside the 10-over mark that had the pink corner well in charge by the time young Kate Heffernan broke through with Bezuidenhout’s wicket in the 10th over.
Only two wickets would fall, however, and Dodd just kept going, calmly carrying her bat for unbeaten 55 from 49 balls to seal the eight-wicket win — a result that saw Spirit move one ahead of the Sparks into fifth spot in the sub-battle to avoid the season’s wooden spoon.