ONE-DAY ROUND ONE — Central Hinds 157 in 45.5 overs (Hannah Rowe 36, Kate Baxter career best 32 not out; Millie Cowan career-best 4-31) lost to the Otago Sparks 158/7 in 39.2 overs (Katey Martin 39; Rosemary Mair 3-37) by three wickets at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth on 26 November 2016
Having put the Central Hinds into bat at a rain-freshened Pukekura Park, the Otago Sparks had their hosts in plenty of trouble at 54 for four after just 16 overs — before rain pressed the pause button on the morning’s play.
Opening bowlers Morna Nielsen and Beth Langston had claimed two apiece, forming an all-international opening attack with England’s pace right-armer Langston on Sparks debut as an overseas player.
USA representative Shebani Bhaskar was also debuting for a side that featured three WHITE FERNS in captain Suzie Bates, Nielsen and Katey Martin, Leigh Kasperek sitting out the round with an Achilles’ niggle.
When the innings restarted at 1.40pm, Anlo Deventer and Kelly Rangi were starting again at the crease, both soon back in the pavilion as Millie Cowan bowled Deventer before Bates claimed Rangi caught behind on 19 — the Hinds’ top scorer to that point as the side stumbled to 69/6.
Cowan kept up the attack, going on to bag a career-best 4-31 as the Hinds looked in danger of being abruptly bundled out. But Hannah Rowe, who had come in at seven, and Taranaki local Kate Baxter rallied for record-busting last stand.
Working singles, their 50-partnership came up in the 44th over, off 81 balls. It had broken the previous best last wicket stand against all teams for the Hinds, which had stood at 44 — Baxter having played a part in that, too, alongside Michelle Bunkall two summers ago.
When Rowe was finally bowled on 36, the Hinds were all out for 137 in the 46th over. By then, their 10th wicket stand had got to 66 — a new national domestic one-day record by any side.
There was little rest for Rowe as she headed back out to open the bowling against Bates and Bhaskar, Bates quickly taking charge with an aggressive 27.
There were 113 runs still required when the opening stand was broken in the eighth over, both batsman falling with the total on 45 (Bates to a stunning catch by Rebecca Burns at slip) and the double breakthrough led to a little flurry of wickets through the middle.
Katey Martin was left to sort things out when the side still needed barely more than two an over, and would remain at the crease for the next 24 overs for her 39, becoming the sixth wicket to fall when only a further 35 runs remained to be found.
It was a doddle from there, the Sparks securing the winning runs in the low-scoring game with just under 10 overs to spare, Cowan completing a useful all-round game with 29.
New Central Hinds captain Michelle Mitchell will have to go back to the drawing board before the round two rematch tomorrow.