The Auckland HEARTS have won the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield after a record-equalling batting effort led by Arlene Kelly’s first List A hundred.
A record second-wicket stand between Lauren Down and Arlene Kelly set the foundation for the HEARTS to later equal their highest ever total of 322/5.
Down was particularly punishing through the covers, hitting 7 fours and 2 sixes on her way to 90 off 86 balls. The opener went at run-a-ball, while Kelly played herself in.
When Down (90) picked out Brooke Halliday at deep mid-wicket, ending a second-wicket partnership of 169, it was Kelly’s turn to take over. The platform had been set and Katie Perkins was ready to make the most of it.
Kelly (110) scrambled a single to mid-off to go to three-figures. Two overs later, the all-rounder’s end came an end, having hit 11 fours from 121 deliveries. What a time to score a first List A ton.
The HEARTS chased down history as the highest team total beckoned. Perkins (63) went past fifty at the death as the HEARTS posted 332/5.
For the HEARTS, the job was not done. There were ups and downs aplenty. Bella Armstrong and Holly Huddleston were tidy through the opening ten overs and the pair combined for a crucial first wicket when Katie Gurrey gloved a catch through to Armstrong at first slip.
Spirit skipper Felicity Leydon-Davis held the key. A second-wicket stand of 70 with Olivia Lobb (31) and a third of 63 with Kate Anderson (33) left the HEARTS frustrated through the middle overs. The required run-rate, however, was hovering around nine and HEARTS skipper Anna Peterson kept rotating her bowlers.
Jesse Prasad provided the HEARTS with the third wicket, when Kate Anderson mishit her lofted drive to Saachi Shahri at mid-off. When Eimear Richardson started brightly, hitting three fours from her first seven deliveries, the HEARTS were on high alert.
The Spirit were in the match and, against the odds, dragged the required run-rate down. Armstrong then turned the game in the HEARTS favour with two wickets in 34th over; first when Richard picked out Huddleston at mid-on and then by beating the defences of Brooke Halliday.
The HEARTS needed something special as the Spirit strung big overs together. It came from a mix-up and a direct-hit run-out from point. It was youngster Fran Jonas, who sparked the HEARTS back into action.
The spinners then returned to the attack. Leydon-Davis had played magnificently for her second List A hundred, but she was running out of partners. Peterson and Jonas (3-46) both nabbed leg-before decisions, before one final run-out secured the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield’s return to Auckland.
In the end, the HEARTS won by a comfortable margin of 67 runs, but it didn’t always feel that way when Leydon-Davis was in full swing.