Australia went down to the hosts England by just three runs in a nail-biting finish at Bristol on Sunday. Batting first England rode on lower order cameos from Katherine Brunt (43*) and Jenny Gunn (39) to post a challenging total of 259/8 in their 50 overs. Elyse Villani, meanwhile, was the pick of the Aussie bowlers with figures of 3/42 in five overs. Kristen Beams also picked up 2/44 whereas each of Jess Jonassen, Megan Schutt, and Ashleigh Gardner picked up a wicket each.
Australia in reply started rather cautiously as they were 55/0 after 15 overs. However, they lost some quick wickets between overs 30-40 and lost the momentum completely.
Elyse Perry kept fighting till the end but could not finish it off for her team as Australia found themselves three runs short of the English total. Each of Katherine Brunt, Alex Hartley, and Jenny Gunn picked up a couple of wickets. Anya Shrubsole and Danielle Hazell also chipped in with a wicket each.
#1 England lose their top half cheaply
England women kept losing wickets at regular intervals as the lost their top half for just 156 runs in the 35th over. It all started in the 4th over of the innings with Lauren Winfield getting dismissed cheaply for just 1 run off 12 deliveries. The hosts had only crawled their way to a score of 6/1 till then.
Sarah Taylor then joined hands with opener Tammy Beaumont in the middle. They accelerated England’s innings with a partnership of 46 runs from 48 deliveries in which Taylor with a score of 35 (33) was the aggressor. However, they lost Taylor and skipper Heather Knight (2) in quick succession and were soon reduced to 56/3.
The period was followed by another 46-run stand between Beaumont and Natalie Sciver. However, Sciver got dismissed after getting off to a solid start. It was Elyse Villani who dismissed her for a well-made 29 (38). Danielle Wyatt followed Sciver’s dismissal with a 54-stand along with Beaumont and took England’s score past 150.
Ashleigh Gardner then got rid of Beaumont (49) and Wyatt fell victim to a very good delivery from Jess Jonassen afterwards as she cleaned her up for 27(32). England thus were reduced to 174/6.
#2 Brunt and Gunn’s lower order partnership turned the game on its head
England were on the brink of getting bowled out for a total of under 200 runs. However, all-rounders Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn turned things around for England. They stitched together a 7th wicket partnership of 85 runs in the last 12 overs of the innings and gave England the much-needed momentum in the game.
That partnership completely took the game away from Australia.
It came to an end with Gunn’s dismissal for a very crucial 39 off just 42 deliveries-an innings that included a four and a couple of much-needed sixes. Brunt remained unbeaten on a fine 45 off 43 deliveries as England reached a total of 259/8 in their 50 overs. The partnership was so crucial that it completely changed the complexion of the game along with the environment of the two dressing rooms.
#3 Alex Hartley's spell makes the difference
Australia got off to a cautious start as they jogged to a score of 55/0 in 15 overs as both the openers, Beth Mooney and Nicole Bolton, looked determined to play long innings.
However, left-arm spinner Alex Hartley had other ideas as she sent a well-settled Mooney (31) back to the pavilion. Australia were thus reduced to 56/1 in the 16th over as Ellyse Perry joined hands with Bolton in the middle. And even after losing a second soon, Australia were cruising with Perry and skipper Meg Lanning taking Australia’s score to a 127/2.
However, it was Hartley again who deceived a well settled Lanning (40) in the air to clean her up. That was the big wicket England needed as Lanning was scoring pretty quickly at a run-a-ball. The momentum of the game completely changed there and Hartley also ended up with a spell of 10-31-2.
#4 Brunt and Gunn impressed with the ball as well
After contributing with the bat, Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn fired with the ball as well. Gunn got the crucial wicket of opener Nicole Bolton who had made her way to 26 runs off just 44 deliveries. She returned afterwards in the death overs to dismiss Ashley Gardner who was scoring quickly having made 11 runs off just 7 deliveries. Gunn ended up with a superb spell of 2/54 in 9 overs.
Brunt, on the other hand, dismissed two most dangerous players in Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell. The latter was looking to take the game away from England having made her way to 21 runs off just 17 deliveries. However, Brunt came on to bowl in the 47th over and cleaned up Blackwell with a superb delivery. She followed that with the wicket of Ellyse Perry (70) in the same over and thus dismissed Australia’s any kind of chance of a victory.
#5 Ellyse Perry’s valiant knock goes in vain
As Australia crumbled from one end, Perry held her wicket at the other. She watched all the destruction from one end of the wicket but brought about a sense of serenity when it came to her stroke making. She was involved in three crucial partnerships with Lanning (57), Villani (44) and Blackwell (42) as she tried to get Australia as close to the target as possible.
However, none could stay long with her and pressure only kept mounting. With the dismissal of Blackwell in the 47th over, Perry tried to take the charge in his own hands but she perished as well – trying to enforce a shot on a good delivery.
Australia lost all hopes of victory with her dismissal. However, she had won the respect and heart of everyone with her fine display with the willow.