Australia v England, 2nd women's ODI, Melbourne February 4, 2008

Blackwell century gives Australia victory

Australia 4 for 240 (A Blackwell 101, K Blackwell 57*, Sthalekar 45) beat England 156 (Perry 3-24) by 84 runs
Scorecard


Alex Blackwell celebrates her first ODI century © Getty Images
 

Alex Blackwell's first ODI century set up Australia's win and Ellyse Perry made it a certainty with three early wickets as England spiralled to an 84-run loss at the MCG. A day after England won their second game on Australian soil, the hosts reasserted their authority and levelled the five-match series 1-1.

Blackwell guided Australia to 4 for 240 and England's chase never got out of first gear following Perry's strikes, which reduced them to 3 for 24 in the sixth over. Her three wickets came in eight balls as she continued her starring role in the series after she snared four victims in Friday's Twenty20 match and made 40 in Sunday's ODI loss.

Sarah Taylor and Claire Taylor were both caught at first slip by Shelley Nitschke and Perry followed by removing the England captain Charlotte Edwards, trapped lbw trying to glance the ball fine. Perry finished with 3 for 24 and her team-mates finally ended the England resistance in the 46th over after their lower order enjoyed some batting practice.

But 241 was always going to be a tough ask for England - just as 234 had been impossible for Australia to chase on Sunday - and the hosts had Alex Blackwell to thank for their defendable total. She became the first Australian to score an ODI century since Leah Poulton in October 2006, and she had solid support from her twin Kate and Lisa Sthalekar.

Posting a century against England at the MCG is a special moment for any cricketer - just ask Ashes stars like Andrew Symonds or Justin Langer - but for Alex Blackwell the experience was made even more special by the presence of her sister when the milestone arrived. The Blackwells combined for a terrific 111-run partnership and Alex's century came in the 50th over with a leg-glance for two before she fell from the second-last ball of the innings, caught behind top-edging an attempted paddle sweep.

She ran the length of the pitch plenty of times in her 159-ball innings, striking only six fours. She made a rock solid start and did not find the boundary until her 44th delivery, with a square cut off Holly Colvin.

Alex Blackwell swept delicately, even bringing out the reverse-sweep in the nineties, and was strong square of the wicket. Her placement was spot on, and a pull forward of midwicket off Rosalie Birch split the narrow gap between two fielders and raced away for four.

Kate Blackwell, on the other hand, had more licence to take risks after her sister and Lisa Sthalekar had already posted an important 93-run stand. Kate Blackwell's half-century came from 54 deliveries and featured four fours, while Sthalekar also batted positively in making 45 from 53 balls.

Sthalekar looked set for a big innings when she tried to late cut Colvin and was bowled, but the third-wicket partnership had done its job after the home side wobbled to 2 for 36. There was no magic comeback for England once Australia's total ballooned and the teams head to Sydney for three more limited-overs clashes with the contest evenly poised.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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