At University of Otago Oval, Dunedin: Otago Sparks 127 all out (Suzie Bates 75 off 56; Nicole Baird 3-23, Jess Kerr 2-16) lost to the Wellington Blaze 131-2 in 18.1 overs (Melie Kerr 73no off 54, Rebecca Burns 32 off 29) by eight wickets
The Wellington Blaze have won a record 17th Twenty20 Super Smash match in a row, but they won’t have it easy as they chase a fifth title in six years.
Melie Kerr starred in making an unbeaten 73 off 54 as they chased down 128 to beat the Otago Sparks at University Oval in Dunedin on Sunday, bettering their old mark of 16 straight wins.
But the all-rounder and several of her Blaze team-mates are soon set to leave for South Africa to play for the White Ferns the Twenty20 World Cup, which starts the same weekend this Super Smash season ends.
Wellington are set to be affected more than any other team in the competition by international callups and their depth will be tested like never before.
White Ferns veteran Suzie Bates will join Melie Kerr in heading off to South Africa in good form, having made 75 off 56 for the Sparks – more than half their final total of 127.
She needed more support than she got, with Kate Ebrahim, who made 16 off 20, and Felicity Leydon-Davis, who made 13 off nine, the only other batters to reach double figures.
Left-arm spinner Nicole Baird took 3-23 from her four overs, while White Ferns seamer Jess Kerr had 2-16.
Off-spinners Xara Jetly and Leigh Kasperek picked up 2-21 from three and 2-18 from four respectively as the Sparks were dismissed off the final ball of their innings.
Rebecca Burns made 32 off 29 to get the Blaze off to a strong start in their chase of just over a run a ball and when she fell, Melie Kerr took control.
At the halfway stage the Blaze were 58-2, having just lost Burns, but Kerr picked up her scoring rate and they sealed the win with just under two overs to spare.
The big moment
The Sparks made a key breakthrough in the 10th over when they dismissed Burns, but were put right back on the back foot as Melie Kerr scored 12 runs in the 11th, including a pair of boundaries.
Best with the bat
Melie Kerr was only on 15 off 22 when Burns was dismissed, but went on to make 58 off the next 32 balls she faced, registering her highest T20 score.
Best with the ball
Jess Kerr finished with a double strike in her final over to peg the Sparks back just when they would have been hoping to launch. She ended up with figures of 2-16, which were only bettered when Baird struck twice in the final over.
The big picture
The Blaze have now won six from six this season and should secure their place in the top three during the next round of matches. The Sparks meanwhile have won two and lost three, with their other match rained out, and are in fourth, two points behind the Auckland Hearts.