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Settled Auckland HEARTS One Win Away From Finals Spot As They Gear Up For Decisive Weekend In Dunedin

An important double header against the Otago Sparks looms for the Auckland HEARTS as they play their final two matches of their regular season.

The HEARTS are currently on 24 points with one win against the third placed Sparks (22 points) guaranteeing a spot in the final against the Wellington Blaze (27 points). Wins are worth four points.

Captain Maddy Green sees the opportunity for finals entry as a reward for her young and talented team.

“It’d be really exciting if we made the HBJ final, I think we’ve played well in that format (50 overs) this year.

“I think we’ve got a lot of confidence in that format as a group and it’s been fantastic to see different people throughout the season contributing.

“This weekend is effectively a semi-final for us. If we can go away and perform under pressure and come away with a win or two leading into the final, that will set us up really well,” says Green.

Standing in their way are a formidable Sparks unit, one of the more consistent sides in the domestic circuit in the last few years, having last won the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield in 2021/22.

The HEARTS have been historically very successful in the 50-over competition but last won the HBJ Shield in 2019/20.

Green, who was part of Shield-winning Auckland sides in 2011/12, 2014/15 and 2015/16, is under no illusion as to the challenge the southern side pose.

“The Otago side have been playing some really good cricket in the last few seasons. Similar to us, they’re a great 50-over team.

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“They’ve got a couple of key players in their top four that we need to get out really early and try apply pressure down the other end,” says Green.

Another key player is opening batter Saachi Shahri, whose double of 70 off 80 and an aggressive 75 off 61, set the tone for two firm wins over Canterbury Magicians in Christchurch two weeks ago.

Says Green: “I thought Saachi Shahri last weekend was excellent and really led from the front from a batting point of view.”

There are no changes to the HEARTS line-up who won those two matches at Hagley Oval on the 3rd and 4th of February.

Both matches on Saturday and Sunday are played at University of Otago Oval in Dunedin with the first ball at 10:30am.

Live scoring will be available through

Hallyburton Johnstone Shield Rounds 9 & 10

Auckland HEARTS vs. Otago Sparks

University of Otago Oval, Dunedin

Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 February, 2024

10:30am start

Anna Browning (Takapuna)
Prue Catton (Auckland University)
Izzy Gaze (Takapuna) (wk)

Maddy Green (Cornwall) (c)

Fran Jonas (Cornwall)

Brooke Halliday (Howick Pakuranga)

Amie Hucker (Cornwall)

Bree Illing (Cornwall)

Rishika Jaswal (North Shore)

Cate Pedersen (Parnell)

Josie Penfold (Howick Pakuranga)

Molly Penfold (Howick Pakuranga)

Saachi Shahri (Howick Pakuranga)

© Scoop Media

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