Taylor's all-round class powers England win
England Women 259 for 6 (SJ Taylor 120, SC Taylor 42, Rainford-Brent 30*) beat Australia Women 204 (Nitschke 47, Sthalekar 43) by 55 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Sarah Taylor produced another stellar performance with bat and gloves, and Laura Marsh held her nerve with 3 for 33, to cut short a thrilling response by Australia's top-order, as England went 2-0 up with an impressive 55-run win in the second of five ODIs at Chelmsford.
Taylor's near-chanceless 120, following her thumping 68 in England's win yesterday, led her side to a dominating 259 for 6, a total that appeared out of reach for Australia's shaky batting lineup. Yet Shelley Nitschke and Lisa Sthalekar put on a rollicking 85 in 15.4 overs as Isa Guha and Katherine Brunt, England's in-form and fiery opening bowler, both strayed in their lines.
So confident were Australia that runs were scored at will all around the ground. Guha, in particular, offered far too many loose deliveries and Sthalekar was in no mood to submit meekly. A lashing cut sped for four, and two more drifters were dispatched with authority in Guha's third over. Another short, wide half-volley was smashed, before a leg-side gift was flicked for four more. Nitschke, meanwhile, steered Brunt for four through point, cracked a commanding four off Guha down the ground before creaming a quite effortless cover-drive for four. Brunt shelled a dolly in the deep when Nitschke was on 27 as England began to flounder.
Enter Nicky Shaw, the stand-in captain owing to Charlotte Edwards' illness, and Marsh, both of whom bowled with much greater discipline to stifle the two trailblazers. Marsh, who mixed up her pace beautifully, bowled Nitschke around her legs while Shaw had the dangerous Sthalekar caught at extra cover for 43. England were fighting back, but Australia were still within sight of their target, as long as they kept wickets in hand.
They didn't, thanks to a brilliant swoop by Guha - making up for a forgettable opening spell - at short midwicket to run-out Jodie Fields for a duck. And when Taylor pulled off another deft stumping off Marsh to remove Alex Blackwell, Australia had slipped to 115 for 5, still needing 145 from 138 balls.
The Marsh-Taylor combination worked beautifully again to dismiss Karen Rolton. A looping, dipping offbreak beat the left-hander from around the wicket, a thick outside edge sneaking through to Taylor who took it expertly at waist height. Lauren Ebsary and Ellyse Perry both struck powerful blows to give Australia the faintest of hope, and Perry put on 29 for the final wicket with Erin Osborne, but Marsh's three-wicket burst had done the damage.
For the second match in a row, Taylor batted with a command belying her age, stroking her third ODI hundred and offering not a single chance. Nitschke's length was either too short or too full, and Taylor punished her accordingly, pulling powerfully through midwicket, and picking up a single to register her slick fifty.
Her senior partner and namesake Claire, meanwhile, was uncharacteristically subdued, though she took advantage of two loose deliveries from Osborne, creaming her for four through extra cover with pure timing. Another crashing drive off Sthalekar got her feet moving, but she fell in her next over, cutting a delivery which was much too full.
Sarah Taylor was then joined by Beth Morgan, who performed so impressively in the ICC World Twenty20, and the pair put on a brisk 86 in 15.2 overs of strong, match-seizing hitting. Morgan was out of the traps in a hurry, guiding Farrell beautifully through point for four and flicking the wayward Sthalekar down to fine leg for another boundary. Taylor showed no signs of trepidation in sight of her third hundred, picking up Andrews for four, ala Kevin Pietersen, and crashing Nitschke behind square for four more. Australia were rapidly losing the plot.
After notching her ton from 112 balls, Taylor really opened up, stepping outside leg to give herself room before clattering Sarah Andrews, who tried to straighten her line, for two more classy fours over the midwicket boundary during a blistering fourth-wicket stand of 45 with Ebony Rainford-Brent, who was busy in her 32-ball 30.
That England let Australia even have a sniff at victory will be a topic for discussion ahead of the third ODI. Yet as they continue to show, when one player fails to perform, another steps up to the mark - and all the while, Taylor is fast becoming the hottest property in women's cricket.
Will Luke is assistant editor of Cricinfo