— England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) January 23, 2014
Heather Knight took heart from England being close to beating Australia in today’s second one-day international despite of being short of their best.
The hosts kept the Women’s Ashes alive with a 26-run win in a day/nighter at the MCG, a result that leaves them trailing eight points to two in the multi-format series.
A century from international debutant Nicole Bolton underpinned Australia’s 266 for seven, but fifties from Knight, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver carried England near to their target before they were bowled out with 22 balls unused.
The tourists still need to avoid defeat in just one of the four remaining games, the first of which is Sunday’s ODI in Tasmania, to retain the urn.
“We didn’t play our best cricket today, but we got within 20 runs of them so we’re going to come out fighting at Tassie and hopefully get over the line,” Knight told ecb.co.uk.
“We did quite well to get as close as we did in the end - 20 runs with four overs still to bat - so it just goes to show it could have been a different story.”
Amid several missed chances, Bolton was reprieved twice early in her innings. Jenny Gunn dropped her at third slip in the second over and Sciver shelled her at midwicket on 28. She went on to score 124, becoming the first Australia woman to make three figures on ODI debut.
“Nicole batted brilliantly but we let her off the hook a few times,” Knight admitted. “We pride ourselves on our fielding and unfortunately we weren’t ourselves today. That’s something we’ll look at tomorrow and hopefully come back a lot better in Tassie.”
Knight saw opening partner Charlotte Edwards bowled from the reply’s fist ball, yet went on to register 55 - her first significant score of the rubber - before being stumped off seamer Julie Hunter.
“I hadn’t scored the runs I wanted to so far in the series, so it’s pleasing to contribute,” Knight said. “I’m just disappointed I didn’t go on.
“I don’t think we felt the pressure too much. It was a good track and we were pretty confident throughout the innings that we were going to get over the line.”
Taylor, another to make a first major batting contribution in the series, and 21-year-old starlet Sciver kept England in the game with 63 and 57 respectively, the latter facing just 42 deliveries.
However, no lower-order team-mate could offer enough support and Sciver was last out seeking her seventh boundary.
“They [Taylor and Sciver] batted brilliantly, Natalie in particular just showing her potential of what she can do in an innings,” Knight added.
“She’s got every shot in the book and hits a clean ball. Unfortunately we didn’t have people that could stay with her and the wickets at key times cost us.”