Blaze go down to Sparks

Otago Sparks 150-8 in 20 overs (Katey Martin 64, Amelia Kerr 21-4) beat Wellington Blaze 131-8 in 20 overs (Liz Perry 31, Leigh Kasperek 36-3) by 19 runs at Basin Reserve, Wellington.

The highlfying Blaze fell at home to the Sparks in what was a fine performance from the away side, putting a solid total on the board backed up by a committed performance in the field. Skipper Katey Martin’s 64 set the tone as she led her young side to a 19 run win to get their campaign back on track.

The Sparks were targeting a fast start, with both Millie Cowan and Alice Davidson-Richards not afraid to free the arms, and they were able to hit through and over the field.

Cowan plundered two fours from Amelia Kerr’s first two balls in the fifth over, but the WHITEFERN got her revenge when Cowan miscued to backward point for 28 from 21.

Davidson Richards fell for 17 hitting high out to mid wicket, where Amelia Kerr got underneath and made a tricky catch look easy.

Katey Martin picked up where she left off at University Oval and put on a display of controlled power, stroking the ball into seemingly impossible gaps in the Blaze field. Her 64 from 46 formed the backbone of the Sparks innings, supported by Polly Inglis with a cracking 22 from 15 balls.

Amelia Kerr wrecked havoc at the end of the innings, picking up two wickets in the last over, including Martin who was caught on the rope, to finish with 21-4 from her four.

Rebecca Burns set about making a fast start of her own, hitting the Sparks attack cleanly for two fours and a six before Davidson-Richards put the brakes on by trapping her for 21 from 16 in the fifth over.

The Sparks made a big improvement on their fielding efforts against the Magicians in Dunedin, with no missed chances and some committed dives and saves and Kate Heffernan pulling off a spectacular one-handed, over the head catch to remove the dangerous Amelia Kerr for five.

Liz Perry looked to anchor the innings as the run rate required started to creep up – but just as she looked to get after the bowling, Perry was bowled by Eden Carson for 31. Carson finished with 26-2 from four, while Leigh Kasperek took 36-4.

The Sparks’ accurate, full length proved too much for the home side, who felt the pressure of the big run rate needed to send wickets tumbling toward the end to give the Sparks the win by 19 runs and give them a shout of making the finals.

The Blaze will look to put this performance behind them – they remain top of the table with more games played than their rivals.