Auckland Hearts can breathe a sigh of relief after securing their place in the Super Smash final thanks to a strong performance from the team they will meet in the knockout final – the Otago Sparks.
In a final-round encounter at the University of Otago Oval in Dunedin on Sunday, the Canterbury Wizards were lucky to slip into third place, with a healthy win over the hosts getting their net run rate ahead Auckland.
However, the Sparks looked in control from the start and duly recorded a seven-wicket victory to end the campaign of their southern rivals, who finished last season at the top of the ladder and went on to claim the title .
The Sparks will host the Hearts in the playoff final on Thursday, with the winner then taking on Wellington Blaze at Hamilton’s Seddon Park on Saturday.
* Black Caps v South Africa test series looms as pace bowlers battle
* The lure of cricket loses its luster when the lure becomes dreadful
* Tom Walsh throws the bat as the rugby team triumph over the cricket team in Black Clash
With nothing to gain from the game, already secure in second place, the Sparks put on a neat display to keep their confidence alive, as skipper Suzie Bates scored another half-century (55 from 49 balls ) in their comfortable pursuit of 112 .
Flyhalf Bates – the top scorer in both men’s and women’s competition – started quietly but went on to hit eight fours in what was her 56th T20 50.
She fell with 29 needed over the last six overs and there were still plenty of batters left, and Kate Ebrahim (36no of 43) and Hayley Jensen (14no of 11) duly finished the job with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, Jensen had been instrumental with the ball, claiming 2-15 from four overs, after the Magicians opted to strike first.
In tandem with Emma Black, the pair immediately held back the visitors with their prodigious swing, and in Jensen’s third they had the valuable wicket of Amy Satterthwaite.
Fresh off their rapid century against the Northern Braves in Christchurch on Friday, the experienced White Fern was undone by slashing Polly Inglis, who took a good hold on a wide slide.
New hitter Jacinta Savage then cut her first pitch for four, but was one of her next deliveries when she also edged Inglis, and the reds and blacks were in trouble at 16-3.
It only got worse when captain Frankie Mackay was passed half a length in shocking confusion with Abby Gerken, and while Lea Tahuhu upped the ante with a quick 31 from 15, she jumped and cut Sophie Oldershaw to cover and the visitors were never going to post anything really competitive.
Super Smash – women
At University of Otago Oval, Dunedin: Canterbury Magicians 111-8 (Lea Tahuhu 31 of 15; Hayley Jensen 2-15 of 4, Sophie Oldershaw 2-23, Eden Carson 2-28) lost to Otago Sparks 115-3 (Suzie Bates 55 out of 49, Kate Ebrahim 36 out of 43) by 7 counters.
MVP at bat: Suzie Bates (Sparks)
Bowling MVP: Hayley Jensen (Sparks)