WHITE FERN Suzie Bates stood out for her side in the first innings | PHOTOSPORT

Sparking up in Dunedin

Brimming with confidence after two big HBJ wins against Northern Brave, the Central Hinds had their best day out against the Sparks so far this season.

The Sparks had brutally smashed the Hinds in the one-day clashes between these two teams, but now the Hinds pulled together a sharp performance in the field to put their Dunedin hosts under some mental pressure for the first time.

Sent in by Hinds captain Jess Watkin, WHITE FERNS star Suzie Bates meanwhile scored 64 at the top, her half ton coming off just 40 balls.

Yet a good day for Bates and 72-run stand with Katey Martin for the second wicket oddly didn't convert into a big total for her team who had to settle for a middling 134/6.

Watkin had conceded just one boundary off her miserly, four-over spell - off the very last ball of her set.

She had Bates caught and bowled in her 2-22, and tight finishing from Hannah Rowe and Melissa Hansen backed up a good performance from the Hinds spinners which included teenage leg-spinner Ocean Bartlett getting a bowl for the first time in Dream11 Super Smash.

The match was Natalie Dodd's 100th overall T20 appearance and she and Watkin made a strong start to the Hinds' chase.

Watkin got a big let-off on 16* when she was dropped off Emma Black at 24/0. But an uncharacteristic calling mix-up between Dodd and Watkin eventually broke the opening stand in much more dramatic fashion at 46/1.

Turning down an easy two, Jess Watkin had blasted a quick 32* to dominate the scoreline but found herself one step from disaster after the two batters met in the middle of the wicket while delighted bowler Kate Ebrahim snapped the bails off.

The only question was whom was run out - and Watkin was fortunate not to step past Dodd who had meanwhile lost her balance and fallen over mid-pitch.

After that comedic episode, the Hinds needed to quickly settle while the Sparks finally had a chance to exert some pressure on a new batter.

The Sparks got that job done well, quickly getting rid of both Emily Cunningham and Hannah Rowe - Sophie Oldershaw outstanding as she grabbed two excellent wickets in the space of three balls in the eighth: 48/3, now.

Watkin remained present on 32* with her side at this stage needing 87 off 12 overs at 7.25 and her power hitting seemingly critical to their chances.

Bates brought back WHITE FERNS strike bowler Hayley Jensen and the move paid near instant dividends with the huge wicket of Watkin, caught for a 24-ball 32.

Now the pendulum swung as leg-spinning Oldershaw made it three with dangerous hitter Mikaela Greig caught cheaply by Bates. The pressure was on the Hinds, five down.

The twists and turns in this T20 weren't over yet with Georgia Atkinson stepping up to the plate and fighting back with the bat.

The game was in the balance with the Hinds needing 26 from the last three overs after a 50-stand from Atkinson and Kerry Tomlinson for the sixth wicket.

When Atkinson was put down on 32*, the tension in the air thickened and the teams headed into the last two overs with 15 still needed.

Cue Jensen clean bowling Tomlinson after a run-a-ball 24.

The young Bartlett then went first ball to put Jensen on a hat-trick. Somehow Atkinson survived another top delivery, the outstanding Jensen dotting down but striking again the very next ball as Atkinson was caught on 37 (24).

At 120/8, the Hinds needed 15 off eight with two new batters, both tailenders. What a thrilling tussle it had been and now going down to Ebrahim's last over, 13 needed.

Ebrahim's experience won out as the live equation went down to the last three balls - then Ebrahim dismissing Ashtuti Kumar on the penultimate ball of the match to ensure their would be no upset.

Ebrahim finished it off in style by bowling Claudia Green first ball to put an exclamation point on a tight and throughly entertaining eight-run win for the Sparks who had taken the last five Hinds wickets in the last two overs.

SCORES