Formidable Wellington Blaze has become the first team to qualify for this season's Dream11 Super Smash Finals after their seventh straight win in the 10-round regular season, today at New Plymouth's Pukekura Park.
Blaze was pushed hard by hosts the Central Hinds, but another superb bowling performance by WHITE FERN Jess Kerr (4-18 off four overs) helped the Blaze restrict the Hinds to 123/6 - despite a ballistic 70 off just 45 balls from big-hitting Hinds captain Jess Watkin in front of a large home crowd.
It was a team effort that got Blaze across the line in the reply, in a last-over finish.
Melie Kerr (26), captain Maddy Green (28), Thamysn Newton (23 not out off 29 balls) and Jess Kerr herself (a T20 career best 25 not out off 15 balls) all combined for a tense five-wicket win.
In her whirlwind batting career best, Kerr hit the winning boundary to boot, off the first ball of the final over.
The top three qualifiers will progress to Finals, with the season's highest qualifier progressing direct into the Grand Final, and the second and third qualifiers heading to a 2v3 Elimination Final to determine who joins the top qualifier.
Currently top of the table, Blaze now sits on 28 points after seven wins and can attain a maximum of 40 points if they keep on winning.
The Otago Sparks (24 from 8 rounds) can theoretically reach 32 points, the Auckland Hearts (12 from six rounds) can reach 28, and the Canterbury Magicians (12 from seven rounds) can reach 24 in what shapes as a fascinating business end of the 2021/22 regular season.