Otago Sparks claim Hallyburton Johnstone Shield title in thrilling final

In a thrilling encounter on 25 February 2024 at the University of Otago Oval, Dunedin, the grand final of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield (HJS) witnessed a captivating battle between Wellington Blaze and Otago Sparks.

Otago Sparks claim Hallyburton Johnstone Shield title in thrilling final.
Otago Sparks claim the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield title in a thrilling final.

Among the six teams fighting for the title, Otago Sparks were at the top of the table with 32 points and a 1.01 net run rate, and Wellington Blaze stood second with 31 total points and 0.57 NRR. Otago emerged victorious, claiming the title with a four-wicket win over Wellington Blaze.

Felicity Robertson, captain of Otago Sparks won the toss and elected to bowl first. Blaze’s Leigh Kasperek got off to a steady start but lost wickets at regular intervals. Opener Rebecca Burns fell early to Hayley Jensen, managing only 10 runs. However, Jess McFadyen, held the innings together with a resilient knock of 64 runs off 103 deliveries, supported by contributions from Caitlin King’s 19 runs and Jess Kerr’s 56 runs off 65 balls.

Despite their efforts, the Blaze couldn’t put in a huge total as desired and they finished their innings at 211 for 8 wickets in their allotted 50 overs. Emma Black of Otago Sparks claimed 3 crucial wickets of Georgia Plimmer, Leigh Kasperek, and Nicole Baird for 31 runs.

In the second innings of the match, Otago Sparks faced early setbacks losing the wickets of Saffron Wilson, Suzie Bates, and Bella James cheaply for 1, 16, and 13 runs respectively. However, Caitlin Blakely steadied the innings with a fifty, scoring 50 runs off 74 balls. The team received valuable support from Felicity Robertson’s 38 runs and Polly Inglis’s 35 runs, despite a late fall of wickets including that of Blakely and Robertson.

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Olivia Gain’s 42 runs off 38 balls including four boundaries and a maximum, this contribution at an end helped Otago Sparks chase down the target of 212 runs with 4 wickets in hand and 11 balls to spare. Xara Jetly was the standout bowler for Wellington Blaze claiming 3 wickets for 29 runs.

Otago Sparks won the match by 4 wickets clinching the title of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield, their collective effort with both bat and ball ensured a well-deserved victory in a thrilling encounter against Wellington Blaze.

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