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Auckland Hearts clear at top of HBJ Shield ladder

The Auckland Hearts are unbeaten at the top of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield table, after they eased past the Otago Sparks in Dunedin.

In the second match of the weekend match a ground delay took out the first two scheduled hours. Auckland Hearts captain Maddy Green won the toss and elected to bowl.

The match was reduced to 45 overs per side, and Holly Huddleston and Arlene Kelly put intense pressure on the Otago batsmen. Kelly picked up two wickets and the pair held Otago to just 26 in the first 10 overs.

First change bowler Bella Armstrong struck with her third delivery. Roz McNeill then took a wicket in her first over and Otago were left reeling on 36/5.

Anna Peterson came on and took two wickets, including Leigh Kasperek who was the only Sparks batsman to reach more than 20.

The Sparks held out till the 38th over before being skittled for 107. All the Hearts bowlers took wickets – Kelly, Armstrong, and Peterson with two; Huddleston, McNeill and Skye Bowden picking up one each.

Green came in early and picked up where she had left off the day before. She hit 52 not out off 41 balls, including nine fours. Katie Perkins put on an unbeaten 26, and the Hearts won by eight wickets in 18 overs.

On Saturday rain in Dunedin threatened to spoil the party, but with the match reduced to 34 overs each, the Hearts were able to get the result.

Otago struggled to build partnerships after they lost their first wicket on 58. Huddleston picked up three and Peterson took two as Otago finished their allotted overs on 137/7.

The Hearts’ chase started in slightly bizarre fashion with a ten-ball over, including a wicket. Green and Perkins combined to made the bulk of the runs, both reaching 51. The Hearts won by seven wickets with 11 overs to spare.

The Hallyburton Johnstone Shield now takes a break for the Burger King Super Smash. The Hearts will host second-placed Central Hinds on 16 and 17 February 2019.

Round five scorecard

Round six scorecard

Image credit: Photosport.co.nz.

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