England Women 114 for 5 (Sciver 47) beat Australia Women by 111 (Shrubsole 4-11, Sciver 4-15) by five wickets Scorecard
Sciver rises above poor batting
It was a game too late to change the outcome of the Women's Ashes, but England finally produced the run-chase they required to defeat their Australian counterparts.
Just three days after failing to chase down 108 at Hove - they were bowled out for 87 - in a match they had to win to keep the Ashes alive, England secured victory by five-wickets and with 11 balls to spare in Cardiff. It means they win the T20 section of the multi-points series 2-1 - no mean feat against the world No. 1 side who, until a week ago, were undefeated in 16 successive T20I games - but with the Ashes already gone (the final margin is 10-6), that will be of little consolation.
England were indebted to Natalie Sciver for marshalling their run chase. The 23-year-old, who clearly has a huge future in the middle-order of a brittle batting unit, came to the crease with her side precariously placed once again - they were 22 for 3 at one stage - but produced a clam, polished innings to take her side to the brink of victory. She hit the first boundary of the innings in the fifth over, a nicely timed flick off her pads, and the only six when she skipped down the wicket to loft Jess Jonassen back over her head.
Earlier, Sciver had also claimed her career-best T20I figures. Gentle of pace, but showing admirable control, Sciver benefited from a series of ill-advised strokes on a sluggish pitch where it was always likely to prove difficult to hit over the top.
But it was Anya Shrubsole who set the tone in the field for England. Her opening spell - 4 for 11 in four overs - reduced Australia to 25 for 4 and they never fully recovered. She struck twice in her first over - a fine inswinger beating the tentative push of Meg Lanning - while three balls later Elyse Villani played across the line and saw her leading edge loop to point. In all Shrubsole bowled 18 dots balls and only conceded seven runs off the bat.
That Australia were able to set anything like a competitive total was largely due to a stand of 36 from 23 balls from Alyssa Healy and Grace Harris. Harris, an impressively powerful batsman, struck three sixes - the only three of the innings - with a Danny Hazell full toss despatched over midwicket, a length delivery from Katherine Brunt clipped in the same direction and a pretty respectable ball from Rebecca Grundy being slog-swept.
Perhaps Australia, with the Ashes already sealed, lacked some of the intensity they had shown earlier in the summer. Not only will they be disappointed with their batting for the second game in succession, but they donated 16 wides to England's total which, against a batting line-up clearly suffering from a lack of confidence, could have been crucial.
But this has been a fine tour for them and confirmation that, after the first series between fully professional international women's teams, that they are the team to beat.
The stuttering start to England's run-chase will ensure that this victory does not mask the obvious cracks in their batting. They were exemplified by the decision to promote Danni Wyatt, selected as a batsman despite more than 90 international matches without making a half-century, to opener and the use of Brunt, whose improvement with the bat comes in stark contrast to the performance of his top-order colleagues, at No.5 throughout the T20 series.
But if England are to enjoy better results, they will require more consistent performances from the likes of Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor - who was the victim of an outstanding catch here by Healy, who clung on to an under-edge standing up to the stumps - and Heather Knight.