The Cricket Express Women’s U19 side have won their National Tournament with a tense final-day victory over Central Districts on Tuesday.
Earlier in the week, Auckland went unbeaten through the first three 50-over matches.
Emma Irwin (37) held the early part of the inning together in the opening match against Northern Districts but it was a determined Emily Handyside (43), who combined with both Marama Downes (22) and Breearne Illing (22) to lift the total to 187. Auckland’s bowlers knocked off the top of the ND order and, at 19/5, there was no way back. Illing capped her day with 3-8, while Downes (2-9) and Irwin (2-7) also added to their batting efforts.
Illing (3-5) picked up where she left off on Day Two, wiping aside the Canterbury top-order. Auckland’s attack maintained the early pressure with Sam Petherick (2-12) and Prue Catton (2-14) taking care of the tail. The Auckland top-five completed the chase in the 25th over to go two-from-two.
The bowling attack again came to the fore in a rain-reduced match against Wellington. Bowling first, Auckland restricted Wellington to 118/9 in 34 overs. Downes (2-8) picked up another two wickets, while Renee MacMillan finished with fine figures of 2-7 from her three overs.
Auckland’s chase went anything but smoothly with Anna Browning (30) the only player in the top six to pass double figures. Handyside (35) and Downes (18*) came to the rescue again, adding 45 for the eighth-wicket before Fran Jonas joined Downes for the final 12 runs.
Two undefeated sides met on Day Four and Central Districts came away victorious in a tight 50-over affair. Browning led the batting effort with 64 off 85 balls, while Petherick (43) added some graft to the middle order as Auckland posted their highest total of the tournament – 198 all out. Regular wickets kept Auckland in the match with Amie Hucker (3-40) and Illing (2-35) the best of the bowlers, but CD hung tough. At 167/8, Auckland were closing in on victory, but a stubborn ninth-wicket stand was enough for CD to sneak over the line in the 49th over.
Auckland were to taste a second defeat in their first T20 against Otago. The Irwin sisters, Kate (32) and Emma (25), top-scored in a total of 117/8. Petherick (3-28) hit back with the ball, but Otago’s middle order rallied to snatch a four-wicket win with three balls to spare.
The bounce-back came against Northern Districts as MacMillan (3-19) led the Auckland attack. Chasing 122, Emma Irwin (46) and Browning (28) put on 70 for the first wicket to take the pressure off the remainder of the chase. The finish, however, was a little tense but Downes and Petherick kept their heads to give Auckland a shot at the title heading into the final day.
Heading into the final match, Central Districts held a one-point lead over Auckland. Fortunately, Auckland would play CD meaning a victory would secure the National title for either side. Though CD’s openers held onto their wickets, Illing, Hucker and Jonas were tidy to start. The acceleration eventually came, but Browning (5-20) snuffed that out with three wickets in the 14th over.
Chasing CD’s 108/8, there was plenty of nerves in the Auckland camp, but Browning wasn’t going to let her efforts with the ball go to waste, guiding her side to a three-wicket victory with 36 not out. Hucker (21), the skipper, played a crucial cameo late on as Auckland recaptured the National U19 Championship.
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