MATCH REPORT: England v Australia

In front of a roaring crowd of over 4,000, England battled to a vital win to leap to the top of the table, with one foot now in the semi-finals.

England won the toss on a bright morning in Bristol and chose to bat, making one change to their team - with Fran Wilson nursing a minor ankle injury, they chose to sacrifice a batsman and bring in Jenny Gunn; whilst Australia recalled strike bowler Megan Schutt and captain Meg Lanning, both of whom had been rested for last week's victory against Pakistan.

Lauren Winfield went early - after swinging and missing once in Jess Jonassen's first over, she played across the line to Megan Schutt and was caught at midwicket.

This brought Sarah Taylor to the crease, who looked to continue mining the rich vein of form she has found in this World Cup with a pair of delicious cover-drivers for 4 off Jonassen. That saw-off the left-armer temporarily, as Meg Lanning brought Ellyse Perry on for an over; but she fared little better - Taylor hitting two 4s off it.

England ended the powerplay 48-1 - 33 of those runs going to Taylor and just 9 to Tammy Beaumont.

But this time however, Taylor couldn't push on - getting an inside edge into her stumps as she tried to drive Kristen Beams' first delivery.

As usual, Australia's field-placings were immaculate, and Meg Lanning was perfectly located to take an easy catch as Heather Knight came down the pitch but then slightly checked an off-drive to Beams and popped it up to mid off for 2, leaving England 56-3 - not where they wanted to be.

Nat Sciver passed 1000 ODI runs for England with her first 4 off Beams, becoming the first women ever to score 1000 ODI runs off less than 1000 balls; but she was forced to play a more circumspect game today, as England looked to rebuild. Sciver took 24 balls to reach double-figures, as England scored 33, losing 2 wickets in the process, in the second 10 over period. Sciver and Beaumont put on 46 before Sciver (29) was caught by Meg Lanning, diving forwards at mid off, off Elyse Villani.

Beaumont brought up England's 150, and her 50 partnership with Danni Wyatt, in the 34th over, with a big six over square leg off Ellyse Perry, who continued to struggle with her line, being called for several wides. Beaumont was one short of her 50, on 49, when a sudden rush of blood to the head saw her try to take on a full-toss from Asheigh Gardner, skying a return catch back to the off-spinner.

In over 80 internationals (ODI and T20) Danni Wyatt has never made a 50, and it wasn't to happen today either - though she had come out with real intent, she ended up bowled middle-stump for 27 misjudging a sweep to Jess Jonassen.

With 10 overs remaining, England were on 184-6 - the Australians definitely having the whip-hand with Jenny Gunn recently batting at an average of 10, compared with her career average of 19. On 9, Gunn edged a ball from Gardner to Alyssa Healy, which the Australian keeper fumbled behind the stumps, before diving forwards to try to complete the catch. It was initially given out by the on-field umpire, but an umpire review showed Healy had not been in control of the ball, and the decision was overturned.

Gunn then got a further bit of good fortune when Kristen Beams dropped a relatively straightforward caught & bowled chance when she was on 18. Shortly after, Brunt became the second England batsman of the day to bring up a 50 partnership with a six, depositing Garnder to cow corner; before Gunn did the same to Beams in the following over. As a rearguard action, it generally wasn't pretty, but it was effective, dragging England past 250. Gunn (39) was ultimately stumped in the final over, having put on 85 off 78 balls with Brunt, who finished 45* as England closed on 259.

Australia's reply began with Nicole Bolton surviving an early review for caught behind off Anya Shrubsole, the off-field umpire determining that the Ultra Edge was inconclusive as to whether she had made contact with a ball going down leg side.

At the end of the powerplay Australia, at 42-0, were actually 6 runs behind where England had been, though with the extra wicket in hand.

Then Beth Mooney survived a scare of her own in the 11th when she was on 27 - Dani Hazell putting down a very tough Caught and Bowled opportunity.

With England searching for wickets, Heather Knight turned to Alex Hartley, who immediately made the breakthrough, as Beth Mooney drove slightly upishly into what looked like a gap at mid off, but reckoned without Lauren Winfield making good ground to her left to take a wonderful diving catch.

Australia sent Ellyse Perry out ahead of Meg Lanning; but Lanning was soon out in the middle anyway, as Nicole Bolton had a flash at Jenny Gunn outside off and was caught behind by Sarah Taylor.

Though still 187 short, Lanning and Perry were content to amble along at 3-or-4 an over, running most of their runs between the wickets and taking no risks. The pair put on 57 before Alex Hartley returned once more to get the breakthrough - bowling Lanning as she came down the pitch to one which perhaps dipped a little, but mostly just went straight on.

Hartley should have had another soon after, only to look on in horror as Elyse Villani was fumbled by Anya Shrubsole at mid on; whilst Villani got another reprieve just moments later, as she ended up at the same end of the pitch as Perry, going for a run Perry was having none of, but England fluffed the run-out opportunity.

With the required rate starting to climb above 8, Australia needed to start pushing on.

Anya Shrubsole returned to the attack and struck Villani on the pads - the umpire's finger went up, only for the Australian's review to confirm that Villani had got a toe-edge.

Ellyse Perry reached her 50 off 71 balls, including 28 singles - not quick, but not necessarily a problem. However, Villani wasn't scoring quickly at the other end either - she had made just 14 off 31 balls when she launched into Anya Shrubsole, and was caught near the long on boundary - probably a blessing in disguise for the Southern Stars.

When Katherine Brunt bowled Alex Blackwell, Australia still needed 45 off 23 balls. Perry was starting to find her range but she holed-out to Nat Sciver finally at cow corner. Meanwhile Alyssa Healy was getting busy - smashing 14 off 5 balls. Her wicket was key at this stage, and she knew it - reviewing in vain when struck plumb on the pads by Danni Hazell.

Still the Aussies fought on, with Asheigh Gardner getting in on the action with 11 off 7 balls, but the final over requirement of 16 off 6 balls was just a bit too much to ask of the youngster, as the Aussies finished just 3 runs short of victory.

Comments

  1. "In front of a roaring crowd of over 4,000" - presumably the ICC are hoping England and Australia do not finish 2nd and 3rd and therefore so not have to play a semi at the 2,500 capacity ground in Derby.

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