Australia came back late to take the lead on the last day.

Australia strike back late to surge ahead on penultimate day

Australia came back late to take the lead on the last day.

Australia strike back late to surge ahead on penultimate day
Ash Gardner bagged three wickets on Day 4

Australia edged ahead in the one-off Women’s Ashes Test in Nottingham on day 4 by limiting the hosts to 116/5 in their pursuit of 268 by stumps. England shot themselves in the foot with a 4 for 18 collapse after restricting Australia to 257 in their second innings thanks to Sophie Ecclestone’s second fifer of the game and Lauren Filer’s significant middle-order strikes. Despite a rapid fifty-point opening stand and a generally solid start to the chase, Australia’s robust recovery with the ball, led by Ash Gardner, ensured both teams remained in contention for the four-point advantage in the multi-format series opener.

Beth Mooney continued in the same manner when Australia began with the overnight total of 82 without loss, but Phoebe Litchfield was prevented from reaching her first half-century. Kate Cross made up for dumping the Australian rookie on 34 earlier in the day by catching her four short of the milestone by knocking her down with a gorgeous inswinger. When Nat Sciver-Brunt dropped Mooney off the first ball of her spell, she made a similar error and suffered the price. Ellyse Perry needed some time to get comfortable, but Mooney continued to play with good intentions and kept the runs coming.

Thanks to some excellent fast bowling from Filer, who nipped out Perry for the second time in a row and then got past Tahlia McGrath’s defences to reduce Australia to 157/3 at lunch, England was able to rally late in the session. After lunch, Ecclestone assumed the lead role in their success narrative. Jess Jonassen was bowled for just 14 due to the post-break scoring slump.

Annabel Sutherland staged a brief counterattack with three boundaries off Cross, but Ecclestone struck again, preventing Mooney from reaching her century. Mooney continued, falling 15 short of the goal. Sutherland was also sent packing by the spinner, who top-edged her pull to make an easy catch. Gardner was in and out in a flash. Australia was in serious trouble at 198/7 when their captain raised his hand.

Healy counterattacked after scoring zeroes in her previous three Test innings to give Australia’s prospects of achieving a 300-plus total new life. The eight-wicket partnership survived the session as Australia’s lead grew to 264 by Tea, three wickets were still intact, and their captain was three runs short of a potentially game-winning fifty.

The fall of Australia was as quick on the other side of the pond. Although Healy took 61 balls to reach her fifty, England and Ecclestone required three overs to end the match. However, Lauren Bell delivered the breakthrough, ending Australia’s celebrations by dismissing King immediately after Healy handed over the strike. Soon after, the half-centurion ended up chipping a low full toss off Ecclestone to midwicket, and three balls later, Ecclestone captured Darcie Brown LBW to limit Australia to 257 in the second innings.

Australia strike back late to surge ahead on penultimate day


The English openers got the quest for 268 going quickly with momentum on their side. The hosts accelerated to 6 RPO in the opening eight overs, with boundaries flying around them. Even Sutherland was welcomed into the attack with back-to-back fours by Emma Lamb, who was fortunate to have the outside edge slip through the cordon both times as Australia looked to make quick changes with the ball. In just 8.3 overs, she raised the team’s first fifty.

After a few drinks, Healy tossed the ball to Gardner to make a breakthrough, and she caught Tammy Beaumont at first slip to support the captain’s decision. One brought two, and Lamb has adjudged LBW to McGrath despite a frantic review.

Heather Knight would not allow the two rapid dismissals to slow her down, and she even hit Gardner for a six to get things started. However, after witnessing her deputy lose her wicket in the same over, Heather Knight was forced to make a decision. The spinner, though, had the last laugh when she trapped Knight’s LBW with one that turned in quickly to knock her low on the pads, sending Knight packing. In no time, England’s odds fell from 55/0 to 73/4, and survival mode set in.

Although the run rate decreased, Australia still needed to be finished. A last-minute bowling substitution allowed Australia to score again when Kim Garth persuaded Sophia Dunkley to nip one behind and cut her first Test cricket run. The game was turned in Australia’s favour by five wickets in the closing hour of play, although Danni Wyatt (20*) held down the fort for the hosts, who still need another 152 on the final day.

Brief standings: Australia 473 and 257 (Beth Mooney 85; Alyssa Healy 50, Phoebe Litchfield 46; Sophie Ecclestone 5-63, Lauren Filer 2-49) lead England 463 and 116/5 (Emma Lamb 28; Ash Gardner 3-33) by 151 runs.

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