Thrilling draw puts Australia in reach of Ashes

Australian leg-spinner Alana King  runs out England's Anya Shrubsole to set up a thrilling finish  in the Ashes women's Test at Manuka Oval.

Australian leg-spinner Alana King runs out England's Anya Shrubsole to set up a thrilling finish in the Ashes women's Test at Manuka Oval. Photo: AAP

Australia has one hand on the Ashes after England narrowly missed pulling off the greatest chase in women’s Test history during a thrilling draw in Canberra.

Set a target of 257 runs from 48 overs, England launched an all-out assault on the target late on Sunday afternoon before finishing on 9-245.

The tourists kept the required run-rate at around six-an-over for the entire chase before getting it as low as 45 runs from the final 10 overs with seven wickets in hand.

But the key wicket of Nat Sciver (58 from 62balls) swung the match dramatically, as England lost 6-26 and Australia went within touching distance of retaining the Ashes with a win.

Tailenders Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone then had to defend the final 13 balls, as Australia toyed between leaving fielders on the boundary to save the game and attacking for a win.

For all of England’s effort, it must now win all three of the upcoming ODIs to avoid Australia retaining the Ashes for a fourth straight series.

Captain Meg Lanning leads the Australian team from the field after narrowly missing securing victory in the Test at Manuka Oval. Photo: Getty

Regardless, the Canberra Test will be remembered as one of the best this century in men’s or women’s cricket after both sides went for the win despite the previous record fourth-innings chase being 198.

In a frantic final three hours, Tammy Beaumont hit 36 from 42 at the top and Heather Knight 48 from 54 balls at No.3 after starting the chase needing 5.35 runs an over.

The tourists’ hopes looked dashed when Knight went lbw to Darcie Brown, ending a wonderful Test for the England captain after her 168no in the first innings.

Sophia Dunkley looked as if she would follow next ball when also given out lbw, before overturning the decision on review.

She then hit 30 runs off her first 15 balls to revive England’s hopes, and hit Annabel Sutherland for two straight sixes in an over that went for 16.

Sciver brought up a 48-ball 50, before perishing at mid-wicket trying to pull Sutherland (3-69).

Sutherland also removed Amy Jones, before Beth Mooney took a superb catch on the boundary while still nursing her injured jaw to claim Dunkley’s wicket on 45 off Alana King.

Anya Shrubsole was then run out in the third-last over, leaving Cross and Ecclestone to fend off debutante King’s final over to stay in the series.


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