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February 2, 2014
Australia Women 102 for 3 (Villani 36*) beat England Women 101 for 8 (Farrell 4-15) by seven wickets
Australia once again stamped their authority over England with a seven-wicket victory in the final match of the women's Ashes series, as England finished with 2 successive defeats and a scoreline of 10-8. The innings of Elyse Villani, who hit an unbeaten 36 off 47 balls, took Australia over the line with nine balls to spare.
Australia, chasing 102, had started sedately enough, reaching 23 for 0 after five overs largely thanks to several wide deliveries from opening bowler Kathryn Cross. By contrast, Danielle Hazell was once again the best of England's bowlers, with only nine runs conceded off her four overs. But as long as Australia had wickets in hand, a asking rate of 5.10 an over was never going to be a problem, and the England bowlers struggled to make breakthroughs.
Arran Brindle eventually removed Alyssa Healy in the ninth over, having her caught at midwicket by Lydia Greenway. But Australia's opening partnership was already worth 48 runs, and that wicket brought the in-form Meg Lanning to the crease. Lanning proceeded to punish the England bowlers as she hit a quick-fire 23 off 20 balls, including three boundaries, until she was out in Georgia Elwiss' first over, the 14th, sweeping the ball straight to Natalie Sciver at deep square leg.
Elwiss, whose three overs went for 12 runs, helped to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs. But it was very evident that, once again, an England team beset by injuries were missing several of their frontline bowlers. Desperately seeking to defend a low total, Edwards even brought herself into the attack in the 17th over, but it was too late to make much difference. By the time Nicole Bolton was out on 6, run out coming back for a second as Cross, fielding in the deep, threw the ball to Sarah Taylor behind the stumps, Australia required just 14 runs for victory. Fittingly, it was Villani who hit the winning single, driving to mid-off through the hands of Edwards.
Australia's bowlers had once again restricted England to a low score after Lanning won the toss and put England in. Holly Ferling bowled a tight line, letting just nine runs go off her first three overs.
Rene Farrell, though, was the star with the ball, as she seized the initiative from England with her second ball of the day, having Lauren Winfield caught by Jess Jonassen at point. Then in her second over, she removed two England batsmen with successive deliveries. Edwards was first, driving towards mid-on, where Nicole Bolton leapt up to take a catch above her head, juggled it, then dived to her left to cling on. Greenway went the next ball, edging an away-swinger to Healy behind the stumps.
Farrell's hat-trick ball was safely defended by Sciver, but she had ensured that England, left on 15 for 3 after four overs, would have to stage a difficult recovery.
Taylor and Sciver attempted to do so, staying together for 6.2 overs, as Taylor drove several balls for four, acquiring crucial runs for England. But in the tenth over, she was caught on 22 by Bolton at mid-on, attempting another drive over the top, off the bowling of Megan Schutt. None of England's other batsmen managed to cut loose, and Brindle went three overs later for 6, as Lanning took a great catch diving to her left at mid-on.
Five overs later, having attempted several risky singles, England suffered two run-outs in the space of five balls: first Sciver, backing up after a speedy return from Alex Blackwell at cover, and then Wyatt, as Lanning scored a direct hit from midwicket.
That left England 79 for 7 with five overs remaining, and they managed just 21 runs in that time. Farrell, whose three overs went for just 15 runs, ended a superb day with a straight, fast ball which bowled Hazell for 9 off the last ball of England's innings. Their total of 101 proved distinctly under-par.
England were still, ultimately, Ashes champions and they were presented with medals after the match. But with today's win, Australia can lay claim to a victory in the T20 leg of the series, finishing 2-1 up. That scoreline could be key in terms of momentum as both teams go into the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next month.
Raf Nicholson is a PhD student, an England supporter, a feminist, and fanatical about women's cricket. She tweets hereFeeds: Raf Nicholson
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