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Arlene Kelly delivered a clutch final to secure her side’s eight-point win over Canterbury in Christchurch on Tuesday.
Auckland Hearts have taken a crucial step to secure a place in the Super Smash play-off final at the expense of Canterbury Magicians.
Locked on 12 competitive points apiece ahead of their crucial game at Hagley Oval on Tuesday, Hearts edged the hosts by eight points.
Needing 13 runs from Arlene Kelly’s final to mow down Auckland 131-9, Canterbury lost two wickets and mustered just four runs, leaving their title defense on life support.
With second-placed Wellington and Otago out of reach, the Hearts took a four-point lead over the Magicians to move into third place. Both have two round robin games to play.
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Auckland can thank a quality bowling performance for their second straight win against the Reds and Blacks, who never got into a groove with a bat in hand, despite playing shorter than usual bounds at Hagley Oval and a fast outfield.
They sputtered from the start in their pursuit of Auckland’s aggregate, with flyhalf Amy Satterthwaite looking particularly irritated on her way to 22 from 34.
She and Natalie Cox went 57 for the first wicket. The only problem was that it took them 10.5 overs.
Kelly was superb for the visitors, making up 2-13 from her four overs, while Amie Hucker took 1-15 and took the crucial wicket from Cox (34 from 38).
Having won the toss and elected to the field, the magicians should never have hunted as many as they did. Not when the visitors lost three wickets and scored just 26 runs during the power play, and crawled to 51-3 halfway through their innings.
However, sloppy bowling – Canterbury conceded 18 extras, including 12 wide – and a 42-point partnership between Saachi Shahri (26 of 15) and Izzy Gaze (24 of 26) propelled Hearts to a respectable tally.
The Aucklanders certainly had a bit of luck in their dig, and neither did when captain Katie Perkins was not taken off in the second half of the game.
Perkins clearly overshot Satterthwaite’s delivery which she attempted to sweep, and even began to walk down the court in anticipation of the umpire’s finger lift.
So did Canterbury wicket-keeper Laura Hughes, who could have withdrawn bail and perplexed Perkins if she hadn’t quit.
Perkins then went 29 of 37, before being beaten by seamer Jess Simmons.
Extras and a bunch of misfires aside, Canterbury were sharp down the field, led by Missy Banks throwing the stumps twice, and Cox catching a nice catch at the backseat to send fly-half Lauren Down packing.
Twenty20 Super Smash
Auckland Hearts 131-9 (Katie Perkins 29 of 37, Saachi Shahri 26 of 15; Amy Satterthwaite 2-18) beat the Canterbury Wizards 123-6 (Nat Cox 34 out of 38; Arlene Kelly 2-13) by eight passes.
MVP at bat: Saachi Shahri (Hearts)
Bowling MVP: Arlene Kelly (Hearts)