11 Dec, Monday

Armstrong onslaught leads HEARTS to win; ACES middle over stutters cost them as Stags sneak home

Aces


Armstrong onslaught leads HEARTS to win; ACES middle over stutters cost them as Stags sneak home

James McCullyAces, Hearts

The rain in New Plymouth stayed away long enough for the HEARTS to kickstart their Dream11 Super Smash season in a reduced-over match against the Central Hinds while the ACES hit a speed bump as middle over stutters cost them dearly against the Central Stags after a fast start with the bat.

The North Island’s bleak forecast made the prospect of play seem pretty dicey at Pukekura Park yesterday. After an initial delay the rain abated long enough for a 12-over per side match for the HEARTS against home side the Hinds.

Saachi Shahri continued her good form at the top of the order with a quick fire 17 after the loss of Prue Catton in the second over. After she fell shortly after the dismissal of Lauren Down, the HEARTS needed someone to step up to the plate to get a decent score and lift the total in a short space of time.

Luckily, number four Bella Armstrong found the middle of the bat from the very beginning of her innings, consistently hitting the gaps and powering the ball over the in-field. At the other end, Skye Bowden was only a spectator, contributing 3 off 15 balls in a 77-run partnership while Armstrong rampaged.

Armstrong’s 50, her first in T20 cricket, came up off just 23 balls while her eventual 71 was smashed off 34.

The HEARTS ended on 112/5 off 12 overs.

In reply, the Hinds looked solid with Dodd and Atkinson building a 76-run opening partnership in 8.3 overs. Once Dodd fell for 60 in the 11th over the Hinds just didn’t have the juice to finish off the chase in the final two overs and eventually fell 10 runs short. Amie Hucker and Arlene Kelly ended as the pick of the bowlers with three wickets between them and economy rates of less than 7.

The HEARTS now move past Northern Brave to fourth spot on the Super Smash table with two wins and two losses in their four games so far.

Auckland HEARTS 112/5 off 12 overs (Bella Armstrong 71) beat Central Hinds 102/4 (Natalie Dodd 60) by 10 runs

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The rain seemed a distant memory when the men’s teams took the field though the gloomy conditions weren’t exactly conducive for a vibrant summer atmosphere. However, the New Plymouth locals trickled in and it was game on when the Central Stags won the toss and elected to bowl.

Cole Briggs must have been watching Bella Armstrong’s innings earlier in the day because when he started teeing off, a big total seemed inevitable. Briggs, who hasn’t quite found his range this season despite his immense talent and usefulness in all formats, cracked four fours and four sixes in his 45 off 25, and enjoyed good support at the other end from George Worker.

Once he fell so did the run rate though, and the sticky, slow nature of the surface, combined with some good bowling from the Stags spinners, stopped the ACES juggernaut in its tracks.

When Worker also got out, only 48 runs were scored off the next 7.4 overs for the loss of 5 wickets. The total of 150/9 seemed a little under par though Briggs’ initial onslaught perhaps belied the true nature of the pitch somewhat.

This certainly seemed to be the case when left arm orthodox Louis Delport took the new ball and had Greg Hay out first ball then Ben Smith out LBW for one two overs later.

BlackCaps legend Ross Taylor used his aggression to good effect and lifted the Stags out of their hole with his trademarked leg side hoists peppering the midwicket banks. His partnership with Dane Cleaver, worth 65, put the Stags in a good position at the halfway stage.

Not for the first time in the match, the momentum pivoted again and the ACES struck back. Ashok, Delport and Ferns bowled some tight overs and the Stags lost quick wickets in the middle overs.

The Stags held their nerve in the last two overs though, with Bracewell, Clarkson and Randell hitting crucial boundaries and eventually getting over the line with three balls remaining.

A close match with some positive performances from some unsung ACES players, especially from Briggs, Ferns and Delport, but a total that was perhaps 10-15 runs short of a challenging chasing target.

The ACES drop to fifth out of six teams, above Canterbury Kings but just below Otago Volts on run rate, with one win, two losses and a tie so far in their four games.

Auckland ACES 150/9 (Cole Briggs 45) lost to Central Stags 151/6 (Ross Taylor 50) by four wickets

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