Heartbreak at Hagley

A classic rivalry between the Canterbury Magicians and Auckland Hearts ended in a Hagley heartbreak for the hosts.

The two mid-table sides were neck and neck on 12 points heading into the clash, with three matches left apiece to fight for the last remaining spot in this season’s women’s Elimination Final.

On a fine afternoon, Mags captain Frankie Mackay sent in the Aucklanders and it was looking a great decision as the Hearts quickly lost three wickets.

WHITE FERNS opener Lauren Down was gone off Lea Tahuhu’s second over while Arlene Kelly was run out off her next at 22/2.

Katie Perkins had meanwhile started to get some early traction with a couple of boundaries off Amy Satterthwaite, but after a string of dot balls Jess Simmons struck in her first over of the day to shunt the scoreline from 22/2 to 22/3 in the sixth.

Not an ideal start for the Hearts, but Perkins and Bella Armstrong held it together for the next five or so overs to put together a steadying 30-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Izzy Gaze picked up from where Armstrong left off when Jacinta Savage had the latter caught behind, and opener Perkins soldiered on into the 14th to anchor her side - before Simmons bowled her for a gutsy 29.

With a fast outfield at their disposal, the Hearts needed some big overs fast, and they found them for a handful of overs before Savage struck back again at the end of the 17th.

The death was a good battle with Amy Satterthwaite coming back and striking with the first two balls of the penultimate over, and fellow spinner Mackay keeping things tight until Amie Hucker threw the works into a six off her last ball of the innings.

How important that six would prove!

Would 131/9 be enough against the Magicians - another team with a core of richly experienced batters unfazed by a tricky chase?

The Magicians made the better start with the bat, pening pair Satterthwaite and Nat Cox navigating the first half of the chase without loss.

Advantage red and black. Finally, young spinner Fran Jonas broke through with Satterthwaite’s wicket at 57/1 - but the Hearts missed a double opportunity to reassert themselves with two big dropped catches off the 12th, bowled by Molly Penfold, at a pivotal point in the chase when Mackay was fresh at the crease.

Hucker stopped Cox on 24 however, Saachi Shahri relieved to redeem herself with the catch in the very next over.

The battle seemed destined for a tight finish, but a big 16 runs off the 17th over helped the Magicians get in a deep breath.

Now they needed 27 off the last three overs, but the Jesse Prasad won the 18th with Savage stumped and just six runs coming from it: a tougher 21 from 12, now.

New batter Kirsty Nation attacked and sent a no-ball to the fence as the Magicians turned up the heat. Could the Hearts fight back yet again and keep it tight?

Jonas pulled it back nicely for the Hearts and the Magicians were left needing 13 off the last over, to be bowled by a cool-headed Hearts veteran in Arlene Kelly.

Then, 10 from three. Hold your breath….wicket! The big wicket of Mackay (23) with 10 still needed from two balls, and Laura Hughes walking to the crease with a testing assignment: two balls, and a four and a six needed.

Kelly would have none of that, finishing it on point with just a bye conceded for a tense, eight-run win that saw the Hearts leap into third at their opponent’s expense. Watch this space.