After what felt like an eternity of frustrating summer rain that threatened to wash out everything in its path, Saturday in Auckland ended up an absolute scorcher with baking sunshine present from early morning.
Perhaps unsurprisingly though, HEARTS captain Lauren Down elected to bowl after winning the toss against Central Hinds skipper Jess Watkin, knowing that the pitch had been sweating underneath covers for the best part of a week and was likely to assist the bowlers.
Her instincts were immediately justified as the Hinds struggled to get out of the blocks.
Amie Hucker struck in the first ball of her spell, castling Gemma Atkinson with a yorker before sending back Watkin with a screamer of a return catch.
The Central Hinds then consolidated with Kerry-Anne Tomlinson playing as the aggressor to Natalie Dodd’s anchor. The HEARTS never took their foot off the throat though, and some tight overs from Makayla Templeton and Arlene Kelly kept the Hinds from getting out of the blocks.
By the time Tomlinson and Dodd were dismissed, the Hinds had limped to 85/4 off 17.3 overs and it took a counterattack from Hannah Rowe to lift the score to 113/4 after the allotted 20 overs.
Rowe was also in form with the ball once the HEARTS started their chase, removing Saachi Shahri relatively quickly.
At the other end, Prue Catton looked like she had a point to prove. With a tough start to her Super Smash campaign, it was only a matter of time before such a precociously talented player would come good and today’s knock was a special one.
She continuous found the boundary against a Hinds bowling attack that seemed to have no answer, feeding her full deliveries that she crashed through the covers or dropping short and getting carved through point. Her aggression took the pressure off Down, her struggled against Rowe initially.
The skipper eventually found her range and she combined with Catton for an 83-run partnership. They were both dismissed with four balls of each other but by then the damage was done and Bella Armstrong and Katie Perkins saw the HEARTS home to a strong 7 wicket win.
Auckland HEARTS 114/3 (Prue Catton 57, Lauren Down 24) beat Central Hinds 113/4 by seven wickets
The rain continued to stay away (despite dark clouds brewing) when the ACES took to the field against a typically strong looking Stags side.
Stags skipper Dane Cleaver promptly won the toss and again elected to bowl.
The pitch seemed to have baked and flattened a little by this point as Cole Briggs and Will O’Donnell took flight after the early loss of George Worker.
O’Donnell looked fired up as he targeted Ray Toole, carting him for three sixes off one over. Briggs wasn’t one to stand in the shadow and had some fun of his own too, finding the rope early and often.
After O’Donnell fell for 39 off 19 and Robbie O’Donnell came and went, Briggs brought up his maiden Super Smash half century off 32 balls and was dismissed quickly afterwards when the ACES were on 4/123 in the 13th over.
Thankfully for the ACES, Sean Solia and Ben Horne were able to keep the momentum going and a score in excess of 200 seemed on the cards. A couple of quick wickets pegged the ACES back though, but their score of 191/8 off 20 overs was probably slightly above par.
In reply, the ACES got off to the best possible start with Ben Lister removing Bayley Wiggins on the second ball of the match.
From there it was the Will Young show as he found the middle of the bat early, piercing gaps and hitting over the top regularly.
Then came the over that will most likely go down in Super Smash infamy. Louis Delport, bowling his first over of the innings, was carted for six sixes by Will Young before Delport fired in a short and quick delivery that Young smashed into the waiting hands of Danru Ferns on the square leg rope.
6, 6, 6, 6, 6, OUT.
Then the rain came…
In a repeat of last week, Auckland’s inclement weather washed out another captivating match. This time the ACES could count themselves as desperately unlucky with the Central Stags being 29 runs ahead of the DLS system target when the match was called off.
Had the rain not come, the Stags still required just under 8 an over with just over 10 overs remaining in the innings. Two tight overs and a wicket or two would have turned the match on its head.
It wasn’t to be however, and the Stags consolidate their position at second spot on the table with the ACES languishing in last.
There’s still plenty to play for though, and the Super Smash will return to Kennards Hire Community Oval on the 20th with a juicy clash against Wellington Blaze and Firebirds.
Auckland ACES 191/8 (Cole Briggs 50, Will O’Donnell 39) lost to Central Stags 108/2 off 9.2 overs (Will Young 67) by 29 runs (DLS system)