Australia retains the Ashes despite amazing Sciver-Brunt

Australia retains the Ashes despite amazing Sciver-Brunt

Gardner, King take three wickets each to seal victory despite Sciver-Brunt’s 111*

Australia retains the Ashes despite amazing Sciver-Brunt
Ellyse Perry finished with 91 off 124 balls

Sciver-Brunt gave up just five runs in the penultimate over,

Australia 282 for 7 (Perry 91, Sutherland 50, Wareham 37*, Ecclestone 3-40) beat England 279 for 7 (Sciver-Brunt 111*, Beaumont 60, King 3-44) by three runs.

Alana King and Ashleigh Gardner spun Australia to victory – and retention of the Ashes – with a thrilling three-run win over England in the second ODI in Southampton. Nat Sciver-Brunt’s century, her third in four ODIs against Australia, put the hosts on the verge of a series-saving victory. Still, with five runs needed off the final ball, she managed only a single off the left-arm spin of experienced death bowler Jess Jonassen in front of a crowd of 12,380. Australia has eight points to England’s six, with one more match to play in Taunton on Tuesday, where England’s best hope is to win and tie the series.

Ellyse Perry had set Australia up beautifully with 91, helped by Annabel Sutherland’s half-century and No. 8 Georgia Wareham’s sensational cameo of 37 off only 14 balls. Perry’s 81-run sixth-wicket stand with Sutherland, as well as fifty-run stands with Beth Mooney and Gardner, provided the foundation for Australia’s total of 282 for 7, forcing England to produce their most successful ODI run chase for the second match in a row after their pursuit of 264 in Bristol. However, King, who hadn’t played since the first Test match of the series, came in to replace quick Darcie Brown as Australia went for a spin-heavy attack and broke the game open with three wickets for 15 in the space of 23 balls. At the same time, Gardner claimed 3 for 54 and conceded just six runs off the penultimate over, leaving England chasing 15 off the final. Sciver-Brunt nearly perfected the closing moments with No. 9 Sarah Glenn, who finished unbeaten on 22 from 35 balls. However, in scenes reminiscent of the 2022 World Cup, in which Sciver-Brunt achieved fighting hundreds in losing causes against Australia during the group stage and in the final, her 111 not out came agonizingly short.

Tammy Beaumont started England’s response in excellent style, hitting back-to-back fours from King past mid-off to give her 20 runs in boundaries by the end of the sixth over, and England were 62 without loss after the 10-over powerplay. Legspinner Wareham entered the fray in the 12th over and struck with her third delivery as Sophia Dunkley attempted to paddle but instead had the tip of her off stump rattled, leaving her for a labored 13 off 30.

In the 18th over, King rapped Heather Knight on the front knee-roll in line with the middle stump, and despite Knight’s immediate review, her dismissal was maintained convincingly. Sciver-Brunt overturned her lbw judgment against Tahlia McGrath in the next over when replays revealed the ball was missing down the leg side. But then King produced a magnificent leg break to beat Beaumont’s forward defense and ping the top of the off stump, and she had Alice Capesy out cheaply, picking out Gardner just inside the boundary at deep midwicket to leave England 123 for 4 at the end.

Australia retains the Ashes despite amazing Sciver-Brunt
Nat Sciver-Brunt played another valiant knock but could not get her side over the line

England was still looking well at 132 for 4 against Australia’s 119 for 4, but Danni Wyatt shot a Gardner delivery high to Sutherland at long-on, and it fell to Sciver-Brunt and Amy Jones to make running repairs to the innings.

Sutherland had a problematic chance racing back at mid-on when Jones was on 34, but Jones’ attempted reverse-sweep off Gardner found Schutt at backward point, and her 57-run stand with Sciver-Brunt ended. Sophie Ecclestone was lbw three balls later, and Australia needed 73 from the final ten overs. With England requiring 38 runs off the final five, King gave up three runs off her last over, the 46th, while Jonassen let up eight off the 48th. Wareham dropped Sciver-Brunt off the second ball of the penultimate over at deep midwicket, but England couldn’t quite make Australia pay, despite Sciver-Brunt’s slog-sweep for four followed by two desperate sprints for two.

Earlier, Phoebe Litchfield hit a sumptuous cover drive for four off Lauren Bell. Still, she was pinned back by one that angled in from just outside off stump on the next ball, and Bell had her second wicket when Alyssa Healy spooned tamely to Capsey at short third, leaving Australia at 27 for 2 after six overs. They increased it to 59 for 2 by the end of the powerplay, thanks to Mooney and Perry’s 61-run outing. Mooney smashed a one-bounce four off Sciver-Brunt down the ground and swept Ecclestone to the boundary in the 16th and 17th overs as the Australian combination pushed the tempo. But Mooney’s attempted sweep off Ecclestone in the 19th over proved fatal, with Bell snatching the edge at short fine leg and Australia trailing by 88 runs.

Glenn struck with the first ball of her second over, catching Tahlia McGrath behind while attempting to cut. Gardner had a life on 4 when she sent a Capsey delivery looping towards short third, with Ecclestone sprinting across and putting her left hand to the ball but failing to hang on. Gardner took advantage by sending Glenn over long on-for-six, and Perry brought up her fifty with a draw to square leg for two.

Australia retains the Ashes despite amazing Sciver-Brunt
Fans flocked to Southampton to watch the second ODI

Glenn’s lbw challenge was rejected in her next over, and Perry survived England’s review of the umpires’ call, missing a challenging caught-and-bowled opportunity in an entertaining 28th over. Ecclestone made amends for her previous gaffe with a stunning catch at mid-off from Bell, who had only recently returned to the attack, to dismiss Gardner and end a 56-run partnership with Perry. Kate Cross had already bowled her ten-over allotment when she went out with what was later described as a chronic cramp after dismissing Perry on 63 from Ecclestone at mid-off.

Sutherland scored 50 from 47 balls, including three fours off one Bell over, down the ground, over wide mid-on, and through fine leg. Thanks to her and Perry’s efforts, Glenn conceded 17 runs in the 43rd over. Then England’s bowlers took control, with Ecclestone bowling a tight 45th over for only five runs and Bell giving only four from the next. Sutherland reached her fifty with a single cut just short of a point off Ecclestone’s following over, but Ecclestone then snagged the wickets of Perry and Sutherland in the space of four balls, holing out to long-off and long-on, respectively.

Sciver-Brunt gave up just five runs in the penultimate over, but Wareham helped herself to 26 runs in the final over. Wareham fired back-to-back sixes over deep square leg and deep midwicket, followed by fours over mid-off and extra cover, which bookended another maximum over mid-on.


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