The Auckland HEARTS have cruised to a fourth consecutive win in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield with a dominant eight-wicket win over the Otago Sparks at Melville Park.
Bella Armstrong continued her fine start to the Hallyburton Johnstone campaign, setting a new List A record in New Zealand for her memorable effort with the ball in hand.
Armstrong’s figures of 7-18 took the record, previously held by Munokoa Tunupopo and Karen Musson who had taken 7-19 for Auckland and Central Districts respectively.
Before Armstrong entered the attack, Holly Huddleston and Arlene Kelly had set the tone with testing opening spells. After winning the toss and bowling first, it didn’t take long for the HEARTS to establish a dominant position in the match. Huddleston took the first wicket of Caitlin Blakely when wicketkeeper Tariel Lamb snaffled her first scalp of the day.
Skipper Anna Peterson then introduced Armstrong into the attack and the HEARTS in-form bowler struck almost immediately. Lamb held on to a sharp chance standing up to the stumps and the Sparks lost their second.
Bella James and Hayley Jensen soaked up the pressure and began putting a partnership together. Peterson tied up one end, while Armstrong attacked from the other. Just as the Sparks appeared to be lifting the run-rate, Armstrong turned the game in the HEARTS favour.
The 20-year old took three wickets in six deliveries as the Sparks fell from 49/2 to 50/5. Armstrong’s immaculate lines kept the incoming players on their toes. A chance went down at first slip, which would have given the young seamer a first List A five-wicket bag.
In the muggy heat, Peterson gave Armstrong a rest after six overs. Kelly returned to the attack continuing her economic day. It didn’t take long for Armstrong to be back the bowling crease and stamping her mark on the game. She wouldn’t be denied a fifth wicket. Eden Carson’s leading-edge ended in the hands of Roz McNeill at mid-off.
Armstrong didn’t stop there, taking the Sparks’ eighth and nine wickets as well, as the HEARTS ran through the tail. As the rifling through the record books began, Peterson wrapped up the Sparks’ innings on 74 as Lamb claimed her fifth catch in the innings, equalling the HEARTS record set by Edna Ryan, Rebecca Rolls and Sarah Carnachan.
Armstrong deservedly led the HEARTS from the field to a standing ovation.
In reply, Lauren Down and Saachi Shahri stormed out of the gate. The pair punched gaps in the off-side as the clouds began to build. Shahri pulled her sixth boundary to the mid-wicket fence, finishing on 35* as the HEARTS won the match with eight wickets and more than 35 overs to spare.
Both sides return to Melville Park tomorrow. Play starts at 10 am.