Australia retained the women’s Ashes after Nat Sciver-Brunt’s 111 not out narrowly failed to prevent a three-run defeat for England in the second ODI on Sunday.
England fell short on 7/279 with Sciver-Brunt’s attempted slog-sweep for six from Jess Jonassen’s last delivery of the match only going for one. A four would have taken the game to a Super Over.
England’s victory in Bristol on Wednesday had leveled the multi-format series at 6-6 in points, but Heather Knight’s side knew only a fourth consecutive win over the world champions would keep alive their hopes of winning back the urn.
READ MORE: League great stunned as Warriors throttle Sharks
READ MORE: Freddy’s telling answer to Blues coaching question
READ MORE: ‘Embarrassing’ Bombers grilled over act to skipper
Aussie cricket great Rachael Haynes was full of praise for Sciver-Brunt after almost leading her side to victory.
“Credit to the Aussies, they held their nerve there, Jess Jonassen bowling that final over – but what an innings from Nat Sciver-Brunt, I think that was exceptional, she really stood up for her team,” she said on Nine’s coverage.
“I got a little bit nervous towards the back end there, I’ve certainly been in the field on the back end of some of Sciver-Brunt’s innings, she can hit the ball a long way. She faced a lot of deliveries in that last over, she certainly had the opportunity to do it.”
Put into bat first at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl, Australia posted 7/282 with Ellyse Perry hitting 91 and Annabel Sutherland adding 50, but it was Georgia Wareham (37 not out in 14 balls) who changed the momentum with 24 runs off the final over.
Opener Tammy Beaumont ensured England’s chase started strongly with 60 but wickets fell regularly with the recalled Alana King claiming 3/44 from her 10 overs.
All the highlights from Sciver-Brunt’s incredible century
Sciver-Brunt’s presence kept alive England’s faint hopes and she reached another century against Australia, but could not get the required 15 runs from Jonassen’s final over.
The win puts Australia 8-6 up in the series with only one ODI left to play in Taunton, which means the urn will remain with Alyssa Healy’s side.
Knight saw her decision to bowl first immediately pay dividends with Lauren Bell able to claim the early wickets of Phoebe Litchfield and Healy in windy conditions in Hampshire.
Litchfield was pinned in front LBW and Healy inexplicably cut straight to Alice Capsey, but Perry and Beth Mooney rebuilt the innings and put on 61 for the third wicket.
Spin duo Sophie Ecclestone (3-40) and Sarah Glenn kept Australia in check with Beth Mooney sweeping the former to Bell at short fine leg for 33 and Tahlia McGrath out cheaply after edging behind.
Perry falls in the nineties
The outlook could have been even better for England with Perry dropped on 50 when Glenn put down a tough caught-and-bowled chance, which occurred the ball after the Aussie No. 3 had survived a close lbw appeal.
Perry was given another life on 63 when she chipped Ecclestone to Kate Cross at mid-on, but the England seamer put down the opportunity and injured her right leg as a result.
Ashleigh Gardner was already out for 33 to Bell by this point, but Australia was able to kick on from 158-5 with Sutherland improving their tempo.
An important 81-run partnership for the sixth wicket was broken in the 47th over by Ecclestone, who claimed Perry and Sutherland with substitute fielder Charlie Dean and Capsey taking smart catches on the boundary rope.
Gardner puts Australia back in control
Wareham crucially swung the momentum back in Australia’s favor though with an onslaught on Bell, smashing two sixes over midwicket after an earlier maximum in the last over of the innings.
It left England facing another record ODI chase, after achieving the same feat in Bristol on Wednesday, but it just proved too much for the hosts.
After putting on 57 with Sciver-Brunt for the sixth wicket to take England past the 200-mark, wicketkeeper Amy Jones (37) top-edged her attempted reverse sweep and Ecclestone lasted just two balls — with Gardner picking up two wickets from the 39th over.
Gardner took 3-54 in 10 overs.
— with AP.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
Great Ashes moments since 1990: The centuries, wicket hauls, deliveries, catches and rescue missions that highlight cricket’s longest rivalry