Women’s Ashes: Australia beat England by five wickets to seal series win

Australia sealed an Ashes series victory with a game to spare thanks to a five-wicket win over England in the second one-day-international in Melbourne.

From 40-1 after 10 overs, England lost six wickets for 28 runs before being bowled out for 129 with almost five overs unused.

Ellyse Perry picked up 3-12 and Tahlia McGrath continued her fantastic Ashes series by taking 3-4 in 3.2 overs.

Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen took the key wickets of Nat Sciver, who struggled to get going with eight off 25 balls, and England captain Heather Knight, for 18, in consecutive overs.

A steady 39-run partnership between Amy Jones and Sophie Ecclestone, who made 28 and 32 not out respectively, ensured the tourists avoided a more humiliating total.

Facing an uphill struggle, England’s bowlers were offered a glimmer of hope when Australia fell to 18-2 in reply, with captain Meg Lanning bowled by Kate Cross for a duck.

But Perry hit a match-winning 40 off 64 balls and Ashleigh Gardner an unbeaten 31 off 34 as Australia reached the target with 14.4 overs to spare.

As holders, Australia had retained the Ashes by winning the first ODI in Canberra by making sure the series could not be lost.

Victory in Melbourne gave them a 10-4 lead in the multi-format series, with one ODI to play and two points on offer for the winners.

England head to the final match of the series – at the same ground at 23:05 GMT on Monday – still searching for their first win of the tour.

Australia bowlers star as England falter

Despite having already retained the Ashes, any suggestion of complacency from Australia was quickly quashed with a terrific bowling performance.

Perry, 31, took her first ODI wickets since October 2019, while Jonassen formed a formidable bowling partnership with leg-spinner Alana King.

King took the important wicket of opener Lauren Winfield-Hill, who made 24 off 36 balls but once again failed to convert a good start, to spark the England collapse.

Between overs 12 and 23, King and Jonassen conceded only 21 runs as England’s middle order became increasingly frustrated.

Perry returned to dismiss Sophia Dunkley and Charlie Dean – a replacement for injured pace bowler Katherine Brunt – before McGrath took the final three wickets.

Australia can also credit some outstanding fielding for the win. Wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy took a superb catch to dismiss Tammy Beaumont, leaping to her right as the ball nestled into the webbing of her right glove.

It was trumped by an even more spectacular grab – and arguably the best of the series – by Lanning, who dived full length at first slip and clung on with her fingertips to dismiss Danni Wyatt for a duck.

Perry leads Australia to first home Ashes win since 2011

With England needing quick wickets, seamer Cross – who claimed 3-33 in the first ODI – was once again the most threatening bowler, albeit slightly expensive in taking 2-46 from eight overs.

She found seam movement to bowl Lanning for a duck and broke a 36-run partnership when she hit McGrath’s middle stump.

But Perry gave a reminder why she is considered one of, if not the, best all-rounders in history.

Her knock included five fours and one six down the ground off Cross, who exacted a measure of revenge with a smart pick-up and throw at mid-on to run her out.

With 32 needed, Gardner increased the intensity – hitting three fours and a six – to see Australia over the line.

The win prevented the possibility of a repeat of the 2017-18 Ashes down under – when England won the final two matches to draw the series – and marked Australia’s first Ashes series victory at home since 2010-11.

England and Australia will begin their World Cup campaign against each other on 5 March in Hamilton, New Zealand.

England turn attention to World Cup – reaction

England all-rounder Nat Sciver on BBC Test Match Special: “We’re looking ahead to the World Cup now and making sure we put things right before that and everyone taking responsibility for their role and what the team needs for them. Lessons learned.”

Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry: “The last couple of weeks has been an amazing contest. It certainly hasn’t been easy for our group. To win the Ashes with a game to spare is lovely. There were some really great performances today.”

Former England spinner Alex Hartley: “Australia are a very, very strong side. England had gone toe-to-toe against Australia until today. England did bowl really well but there just weren’t enough runs on the board to create pressure.”

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