The Auckland HEARTS secured their place in the Dream11 Super Smash Finals last night, while Kane Williamson steered the Knights past the ACES at Seddon Park.
Knights vs. ACES | Knights won by three wickets
Batting first, the ACES were in early trouble losing Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips and Sean Solia inside the powerplay. ACES No. 4 Mark Chapman ensured it wasn’t one-way traffic, twice clearing the rope in the front six.
Chapman (69) would go on to hit 6 fours and 4 sixes as he scored a second successive fifty, adding 89 runs with skipper Robbie O’Donnell, who finished unbeaten on 42*.
The Knights bowlers got stuck in at the death and the ACES didn’t quite get the finish they would have wanted, scoring just 29 from the final four overs.
Defending 162/4, the ACES hit back with a pair of powerplay wickets of their own. By the ten-over mark, with the Knights at 72/4, the game was in the balance.
The ACES kept striking, as Ross ter Braak (3-26) and Danru Ferns (3-39) got on top of the Knights’ middle order. One man stood in the ACES way, Kane Williamson, who with the help of a 50-run seventh-wicket stand with Tim Southee (24) took the game to the end.
Williamson showed all of his class to get the Knights back into a winning position and, needing one run to win off the last ball, found a gap through the off-side to finish with 79* off 55 balls.
Spirit vs. HEARTS | HEARTS won by six wickets
Playing under lights for the first time, the HEARTS were asked to bowl first. Though Arlene Kelly (2-17) got the initial breakthrough, the Spirit were in excellent shape, at 59/1, heading into the back half of the innings.
Spin twins Fran Jonas (2-18) and Anna Peterson (1-17) then squeezed through the middle and built sufficient pressure for the HEARTS to prosper at the death. A pair of fine Regina Lilii catches also helped the HEARTS stay on top through the middle of the inning.
Though Spirit skipper Brooke Halliday scored 34 and Eimear Richardson (18) threatened to play the finisher role, the HEARTS strung together several tidy death overs to restrict the hosts to 108/4.
Strong sweeps from skipper Lauren Down and Peterson gave the chase the perfect start. When Down fell in the second over, the HEARTS needed to put a partnership together. Katie Perkins then joined Peterson, and though their partnership ended by the end of the powerplay, it got the HEARTS on the front foot.
Perkins (45) continued on, anchoring the HEARTS batting inning and adding 44 with Holly Huddleston. The pair again ran well and relieved any pressure by finding the boundary.
Perkins hit 6 fours in all, finding plenty of room on the off-side, as she looked set to steer the chase home. It wasn’t to be, however, caught with 21 runs to win. Joined by Lilii, Huddleston (29*) ticked the HEARTS closer to victory before cutting her third boundary and the winning runs to the point boundary.
The HEARTS have now finals-bounds and will continue to jostle for the top position with two games to play.
Image Credit: PhotoSport NZ