Suzie Bates and Kate Ebrahim once again helped out Otago Sparks and this time, to get 2023 off to a winning start.
The overcast conditions pushed Lauren Down to opt for fielding. Suzie, who seemed excited to bat first, struggled in the first over and even gave a straightforward catch to Fran Jonas. The young spinner couldn’t hold on to it and that was the nudge that Suzie Bates needed.
Olivia Gain, who celebrates her birthday today, began her innings with a beautiful cover drive off Hucker. She had a couple of poor outings earlier in the tournament but this time around, she was looking good.
However, Bella Armstrong took an excellent catch to dismiss her at 15. Fran Jonas took the wicket. In fact, Jonas bagged all three wickets that fell today.
After Olivia Gain’s dismissal, Polly Inglis got stumped by Izzy Gaze.
The experienced Kate Ebrahim then joined Suzie Bates to put up a big partnership. Ebrahim made sure to rotate the strike and give the maximum opportunity to Bates. The captain, who averages over 100 in the tournament, found boundaries with ease and got to 59-ball 76.
Hucker took an excellent running catch to dismiss Suzie Bates. In the end, the team made 159.
Chasing eight runs per over, Hearts maintained a good run-rate right from the start. Saachi Shahri and Anna Browning added 48 runs for the first wicket. A run-out from Kate Ebrahim saw Browning walk back.
Right after the run-out, Suzie Bates made Kate Ebrahim bowl and she didn’t disappoint at all. The all-rounder even picked up two wickets in the same over.
Hearts eventually lost the path and as a result, the ever-rising run rate added pressure on them.
Kate Ebrahim led the bowling attack from the front and ended with three wickets. Sophie Oldershaw and Eden Carson also picked up a couple of wickets.
In the end, Otago won by 31 runs.
The match also marked the Super Smash debut of Prue Catton. She managed 3(5) and got run out. Also, the fielding efforts from Eden Carson and Sophie Oldershaw in the death overs need a special mention as well.
Suzie Bates was awarded the player of the match for her half-century.
Result: Auckland Hearts vs Otago Sparks
Otago won by 31 runs