Pearl Dawson Trophy – Finals Report
Preliminary Final – Cornwall vs Howick Pakuranga
With a spot in the final on the line, Cornwall chose to bowl first in excellent cricket conditions. Despite the first ball being caressed to the backward point boundary, the women in green were impressive up front. Amie Hucker and Khusboo Patel conceded just 15 runs from the first four overs.
Howick Pakuranga openers Rewa Arora and Radhika Patel built into the innings, but neither scored above run-a-ball. When Katie Perkins caught Arora in the deep, the mood changed. It was a chance for Cornwall to apply more pressure. Natasha van Tilburg sensed her moment and courageously took the game on.
Skipper Claire Crooks dismissed Patel and Skye Bowden to peg back two promising starts, but Cornwall knew while van Tilburg was at the crease, a challenging total was on the cards.
The powerful right-hander used her feet brilliantly, hitting five fours and a six in a match-defining knock.
Perkins took a fine diving catch at mid-wicket to get van Tilburg’s wicket – with new players at the crease Cornwall did not concede another boundary. The death overs were tight for Cornwall asGemma Adams bowled four boundary-less overs – including the 18th and 20th. Howick Pakuranga finished their innings on 125/6.
Skye Bowden and Josie Penfold made early inroads into the Cornwall top order. Both right-arm seamers bowled unchanged through a dominant Howick Pakuranga powerplay. At 23/3, Cornwall were in trouble.
Perkins was up for the fight, scoring at a run-a-ball, and Cornwall’s hopes leaned heavily on a special innings. Perkins hoisted a Marama Downes’ delivery into the leg-side and Skye Bowden took a tough catch running forward.
The required run-rate blew out and despite spirited running and valiant hitting by Crooks, Adams, and Hucker; Howick Pakuranga triumphed by 11 runs to advance to play Unitak in the Final.
Howick Pakuranga 125/6 (N van Tilburg 41, R Patel 27; C Crooks 2-18) defeated Cornwall 114/6 (K Perkins 33, C Crooks 31*, S Bowden 2-3, M Downes 2-19) by 11 runs.
Final – Unitak vs. Howick Pakuranga
Howick Pakuranga arrived at an unexpected final full of hope. Unitak came in to defend their title on the back of a nine-game T20 win streak. The scene was set as Unitak won the toss and elected to bat first.
The experienced opening duo of Holly Huddleston and Kate Anderson put the pressure on the Howick Pakuranga bowlers. Huddleston didn’t hesitate on anything overpitched, making the most of the field restrictions.
A big score looked on the cards for both Huddleston and Unitak, but Rae Allright came in and bowled a spell that kept the Llamas in the match. It started with the wicket of Huddleston, caught on the mid-wicket boundary by Allysa Bowden.
At 76/2, after ten overs, Howick Pakuranga were staring down a chase of over 150. However, the bowlers pulled back the match with either economical overs or crucial wickets. Jesse Prasad and Sam Curtis struggled to shake off the tight bowling and the scoring slowed significantly. Skye Bowden then took four wickets in her final two overs.
Unitak finished with 137/8 on a wicket that was now 60 overs old.
If Howick Pakuranga were going to nail a dramatic upset, they needed to get on top of the run-rate fast. That didn’t happen as the visitors lost both openers in the first four overs.
Natasha van Tilburg was again the mainstay as the required run-rate moved towards ten runs per over. Quality fast bowling and wily leg-spin added to the pressure and Unitak were on top.
When captain Curtis bowled van Tilburg on 42, the equation read 45 off 30 balls. Howick Pakuranga reduced the task to 28 off 18 before Huddleston came back for her final two overs. The Player of the Match took 3-5 from the 18th and 20th overs to cement back-to-back titles for Unitak.
Unitak 137/8 (H Huddleston 43, J Prasad 31; S Bowden 4-26) defeated Howick Pakuranga (N van Tilburg 42; H Huddleston 5-15, S Curtis 3-31) by nine runs.