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December 11, 2023 2:00 PM

Published by Cricket Wellington

The Spotlight Reporting Wellington Blaze coped far better with the absence of their WHITEFERNS’ players than the Auckland Hearts at Eden Park Outer Oval over the weekend. They produced two sound team performances to trounce the previously unbeaten northerners on both days, and with bonus points from each game, they now sit atop the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield standings after six rounds.

Electing to bat first on Saturday, the Blaze got through to 66-3 in the tenth over, before a partnership of 106 in 22 overs for the fourth wicket between Leigh Kasperek and Kate Chandler put them in a strong position with 15 overs to be bowled.  Kasperek and Gemma Sims carried on brightly, and the visitors finished with a very competitive total at the end of their 50 overs.

The Blaze’s all-spin opening attack of Nicole Baird and Xara Jetly, together with a smart piece of fielding by Jetly, reduced the home side to 10-4 in the fifth over and they were not able to recover.  Skye Bowden (39) and Prue Catton (26) added 52 for the Heart’s fifth wicket, but accurate bowling by Kasperek and Hannah Francis in particular maintained the pressure.  Auckland were rolled for under a hundred with more than 22 overs to spare.

Short scoreboard

Wellington Blaze 247-8 in 50 overs (Kasperek 73, Chandler 56, Sims 29) beat Auckland Hearts 90 in 27.5 overs (Kasperek 2-6, Baird 2-18, Francis 2-28) by 157 runs.

The Auckland Hearts made a better start batting first on Sunday, being 75-1 after 20 overs.  At this point Blaze captain Leigh Kasperek took a fine return catch to dismiss Bella Armstrong.  She had tenacious opener Saachi Shahri caught for 35 soon afterwards, before finishing with outstanding figures from her 10 overs. With the other bowlers performing well and a contentious run-out of Olivia Anderson, they dismissed the Hearts for a modest total with some eight overs not needing to be bowled.

Blaze opening batters Jess McFadyen and Rebecca Burns rattled on 49 runs In the eight overs prior to lunch, and afterwards took their stand to 61 in 10 overs before Burns was out LBW.  Caitlin King then found form with 44 from 57 balls, both she and McFadyen hitting seven fours as they added 71 runs in 17 overs without being parted to guide the Blaze to a second emphatic victory.

Short scoreboard

Auckland Hearts 129 in 42.2 overs (Kasperek 5-16, Biard 2-31) lost to Wellington Blaze 132-1 in 27.2 overs (McFadyen 54*, King 44*, Burns 23) by nine wickets.

Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Table after six rounds:

Wellington Blaze 19

Auckland Hearts 16

Otago Sparks 12

Central Hinds 12

Northern Districts 12

Canterbury Magicians 6

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