By Rob Barnett
Australia continued their fightback in the Women’s Ashes with a tight, four-wicket win over England at Hobart.
Replying to the tourists’ 268 for four, Ellyse Perry’s unbeaten 90 - her best international score - proved pivotal in achieving victory with three balls to spare on Australia Day.
The hosts’ second consecutive win in the multi-format series leaves them trailing eight points to four ahead of the three Twenty20 internationals.
Alyssa Healy’s side must win all of those – the first being on Wednesday at the same venue – to stop England retaining the Ashes.
Today in Tasmania Charlotte Edwards chose to bat first and profited from her decision by sharing an opening stand of 79 with Heather Knight, albeit tight bowling meant it had occupied 19.1 overs when Edwards fell for 34 to a leading edge off Erin Osborne.
Knight, having completed back-to-back fifties, went for 57 after a mix-up with Sarah Taylor, who atoned by striking her second straight half-century.
Taylor dominated a 71-run stand with Lydia Greenway and gave the innings impetus, her milestone arriving from just 48 deliveries. It took a stunning catch by Jess Cameron off Perry, one-handed over her shoulder while running back from mid-off, to prompt Taylor’s downfall for 64.
Natalie Sciver justified her promotion to number five with a 35-ball 43 not out, during which Greenway was lbw while sweeping to Osborne for 25.
Sciver and Arran Brindle put pressure on the fielders in the closing overs, raising a fifty partnership from 45 deliveries as the latter's unbeaten 26 came at better than a run a ball.
Meg Lanning gave the reply a swift start, clearing the rope while scoring 40 of a first-wicket alliance worth 57. She had faced just 30 deliveries when she was stumped down leg off Jenny Gunn.
Cameron was unlucky to be cheaply run out at the non-striker’s end in Gunn’s next over when the bowler deflected Nicole Bolton’s drive on to the stumps.
When Bolton, a centurion on debut in the second ODI, was bowled attempting a big shot for 31 by Danni Hazell, Australia were 81 for three in the 19th over.
Alex Blackwell and Perry, who hit the game’s other six, responded with a definitive partnership, worth 88 to put the hosts on top.
However, Gunn bowled Blackwell around her legs for 51 and soon had Healy caught behind to bring England back into it and earn figures of 3-56 while Hazell's 10 overs cost just 25.
Sciver then cleaned up Jess Jonassen to leave 70 required from eight overs. With the pressure on, Perry found a free-scoring ally in Osborne, who cracked 40 not out from 25 balls to aid victory.