England held sunlight sway before Australia's bowlers regathered vital ground under lights on day one of the inaugural day-night women's Ashes Test at a vibrant North Sydney Oval.
Winning a good toss under blue skies, England's captain Heather Knight
joined Tammy Beaumont
in a considered 104-run stand for the second wicket. It seemed to place the visitors on the path to a major tally, in a match they must avoid losing or leave the Ashes in Australian hands, ahead of the final T20 leg of the multi-format series.
The Australians persisted, however, aided by some terrific catching, and with the additional help of the extra swing to be gained at night, left only three wickets remaining for England to build further on their first innings when play resumes. The experienced Ellyse Perry
and Jess Jonassen
shared four wickets between them, with another two falling to the debutant Tahlia McGrath
. Another playing her first Test, Amanda Wellington, claimed the key wicket of Beaumont.
McGrath had been the first change to the Australian bowling attack after Perry and Megan Schutt shared the new ball, and she was soon able to coax a becalmed Lauren Winfield into driving airily, leaving the chance to be superbly snapped up by a diving Nicole Bolton at cover. That wicket was to be the only one for quite some time, and the shadows of the Oval's venerable stands were growing long by the time Beaumont and Knight were separated.
It was to be the other bowling debutant, Wellington, who found the right delivery with the last ball of the 53rd over, a delectable, looping leg break that drew Beaumont forward and then had her thrusting her hands at a delivery that bounced and turned just enough to take the edge to slip.
If Knight was annoyed to have seen that partnership broken, she was mortified to be given lbw 16 runs later when trying to sweep Jonassen's left-arm spin. Knight was well forward and the ball did not appear to be straightening enough to hit leg stump, but the wicket arrived at another vital juncture for Australia, bringing fresh players to the crease shortly before the lights came into use.
Jonassen then struck again after the dinner break, this time pinning Nat Sciver on the back foot for a far more obvious lbw verdict, after which the second new ball reaped three further victims for the hosts. Georgia Elwiss chanced a hook and watched the top edge safely pouched by Schutt, Sarah Taylor stopped her shot and offered a return catch to a juggling Perry, and Katherine Brunt chased a wide delivery from McGrath and was well taken by Jonassen.
Wellington returned for the night's final over, and though unable to find the right variation for another wicket, the Australians walked off happy with their work. England, by contrast, rued a missed opportunity.