NORTHERN SPIRIT defeated AUCKLAND HEARTS by five runs
Seddon Park | 23 February 2020
The last round of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield before the Grand Final and both Northern Spirit and the Auckland Hearts knew what they had to do.
• If Spirit beat the Hearts at Seddon Park, Spirit would host the Grand Final against the Hearts or the Magicians, pending the result at Pukekura Park
• If the Hearts beat Spirit with a bonus point, the Hearts would host the Grand Final against the Spirit
• If the Hearts beat Spirit without a bonus point, Spirit and the Hearts would meet in the Grand Final which would be hosted by whichever team finished with a higher net run
• If Spirit beat the Hearts, and, the Magicians beat the Hinds with a bonus point, Spirit would host the Final against either the Hearts or Magicians, whichever of those two sides had the higher net run rate
• If the Magicians beat the Hinds without picking up a bonus point, the Hearts and Spirit would meet in the Grand Final.
After the previous day’s washout, one thing was for sure: the Hearts were keen to get on the park for a game and, when captain Regina Lili’i won the toss, she had no hesitation in bowling.
Lili'i would go on to have a big influence over the game for her side, the Samoa international producing a half century - just her second in the Women's List A format - in the pressure cooker chase.
But first, it was Northern Spirit's turn and it didn't get off to the best of starts for the hosts - courtesy of pace opener Bella Armstrong, the youngster again shining with the ball this summer. Captain Felicity Leydon-Davis was walking back in just the second over of the day, but Katie Gurrey and Eimear Richardson settled in for a solid second-wicket effort.
The pair put on 68 together, but that would prove to be the best of Spirit's innings after the Hearts began fighting back, leg-spinner Jane Barnett claiming both of them to have Northern 78 for three.
Kate Anderson and Brooke Halliday looked to form a new stand, Anderson looking in strong form.
Needing a breakthrough, Lili'i turned to Armstrong who delivered once more. Barnett got under the catch to dismiss Halliday before Jesse Prasad marked her return to domestic cricket with Anderson's wicket after a fast 29.
Prasad ensured the Hearts kept the pressure on as Spirit's good start fell away, all out for 193 in 46.1 overs despite a gutsy 32 from youngster Olivia Lobb - while Armstrong finished with an outstanding 4-18 off her eight overs and Barnett 3-55.
The Hearts didn't get the strong start with the bat that they no doubt desired, both Saachi Shahri and Izzy Gaze back in the pavilion at 19/2, Richardson and Lily Mulivai in the action early for the visitors.
The Hearts missing their WHITE FERNS contingent, now Arlene Kelly's experience was needed to steady the ship under early pressure, and she reached 37 in a 63-stand with her captain before offering a return grab to Charlotte Sarsfield.
Lili'i lost a further two partners but was still in charge with 10 overs to go, needing 51 more runs with Tariel Lamb in support.
She would reach a career-best 63 in her 50th List A match - but it was chastened by the loss of her wicket at the end of the 46th, at a crucial moment for her side.
The Spirit kept attacking, while the Hearts needed 16 runs from the last two overs. But instead of the boundaries flowing, wickets were falling in a flurry - Richardson striking twice in the 49th over to give Spirit the edge.
Thirteen needed from Caroline Esterhuizen's final over now. Nailbiter! With seven runs from the first five balls, Amie Hucker was left needing a sixoff the final delivery. It wasn’t to be with Hucker bowled trying to power the ball over the legside.
In their breakthrough summer, Spirit had done it - secured the home Grand Final (venue to be confirmed) to be played Saturday March 14. Meanwhile, Canterbury hearts were breaking in New Plymouth where a special captain's century wasn't quite enough to push them past the Hearts on the table. It would be a rematch in three weeks' time: Northern Spirit and the Auckland Hearts fighting for the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield.
Competition Winner: Auckland Hearts
|Played||Won||Lost||Tied||No Result||Abandoned||Bonus Points||Total Points||Net Run Rate|
|1 –||Northern Spirit||10||8||1||0||1||0||3||37||0.84|
|2 –||Auckland Hearts||10||6||3||0||1||0||3||29||0.44|
|3 –||Canterbury Magicians||10||5||4||0||0||1||2||24||0.25|
|4 –||Central Hinds||10||4||4||0||1||1||3||23||0.30|
|5 –||Wellington Blaze||10||3||5||0||1||1||3||19||0.13|
|6 –||Otago Sparks||10||0||9||0||0||1||0||2||-2.11|