Last summer they produced their best ever one-day season. Now Northern Spirit is shaping as the dark horse of the Dream11 Super Smash after picking up their third win in four games to go top of the Dream11 Super Smash table.
Spirit hosted the still winless Central Hinds in a rain-reduced, 10-overs-a-side match and took a tight nine-wicket DLS win after chasing down their 69 target with one ball to spare.
While the result was close on paper, Spirit gained the early advantage after sending in the Hinds following a rain delay, debutante wicketkeeper Annie Stewart claiming a big dismissal off the very first ball of the match with Central co-captain Jess Watkin stumped off Lauren Heaps for a diamond duck.
Natalie Dodd (38* off 30, above) and Anlo van Deventer (24* off 25) settled the Hinds with an unbroken 64-run stand of the third wicket, dominating their tally of 68/2, but they were outshone in the finishing role by Spirit's Katie Gurrey (24* off 16, below) who blasted nine runs off Hannah Rowe's final over (alongside a single to captain and anchorwoman Brooke Halliday) to get across the finish line with ease.
The Knights had meanwhile headed to their alternate home ground Seddon Park still looking to get on the board - after a stinging loss to the Stags at Pukekura and back-to-back losses at Bay Oval. But the northern men brought the Stags thumping back to Earth with a controlled six-wicket win in the evening match that spanned the full 20-over allocation.
Sent in, even on a slow, spin-friendly deck with a sluggish outfield the Stags' tally of 117 for nine was undercooked. Knights captain Anton Devcich utilised three spinners without even bowling himself, part-timer Henry Cooper picking up 2-14 and the Walker brothers claiming three between them.
Form opener and stand-in captain George Worker had shaped as the key wicket and departed at 60/2 in the 10th before paceman Brett Hampton (below) returned for a handy 3-21 with a wicket in each of his final three overs.
The Knights got a crucial fast start from youngster Katene Clarke (24* off 12, below) in response.
Despite an impressive 2-17 off four overs from Stags spinner Jayden Lennox (below) on T20 debut, backed up by the maestro Ajaz Patel (0-19 off his four), the Central men couldn't keep a lid on the hungry Knights with captain Devcich finishing the game with a six, undefeated on a 22-ball 35 not out to ensure his team cantered home with 2.2 overs to spare.