Ashes aspirations for England kept alive by Heather Knight

In the continuing Ashes series, England defeated Australia for the third time in a row thanks to Heather Knight’s unbroken 75, which enabled the hosts to tie Australia on six points. As the home team finished the chase with 11 balls and two wickets remaining, Knight’s contribution outperformed Beth Mooney’s (81 not out) performance. Despite having chosen to bat first in Bristol, Australia lost captain Alyssa Healy in the first over to Kate Cross, the visitors were instantly revived by the second-wicket stand of 61 between Phoebe Litchfield and Ellyse Perry. When Nat Sciver-Brunt dismissed the former in the 13th over, breaking the partnership, Beth Mooney was sent in to lead the innings. As catches fell, England became tense on the pitch. Mooney herself was the victim of a couple of reprieves (a lost catch and a failed stumping), which she completely exploited.

With Mooney needing 99 balls for her undefeated 81 and Perry needing 51, along with three dropped catches, the Bristol surface wasn’t the simplest to bat on and runs didn’t come by too readily. However, Tahlia McGrath (24 off 36) and Ashleigh Gardner (21 off 24) came in to help Australia advance. Jess Jonnassen then added 30 off 39 to help Australia reach what looked to be a winning score.

When Perry cleaned up Sophia Dunkley in the third over of England’s chase, Australia’s 263/8 appeared even more commanding. However, a quick stand between Tammy Beaumont and Alice Capsey, scoring 74 runs off just 55 balls, launched England’s innings. However, England lost both of the designated hitters in the span of 3.1 overs and experienced a brief stutter until skipper Knight took over the game. After breaking the massive stand, Australia started to dig their heels in, and she was rapidly running out of partners at the other end. When England moved from 103 for 1 in the 13th over to 163 for 4 in the 26th, the hosts had a chance to turn the chase around and win the Ashes with two games remaining. The loss of Nat-Sciver Brunt caused England to stumble a little bit as players like Danielle Wyatt, Amy Jones, and Sophie Ecclestone came and went, much to the displeasure of their skipper at the other end who was fighting alone. The chase was still in reach for England at 235 for 8, but Kate Cross came out to ensure that her captain’s 28th ODI fifty wouldn’t be in vain. She followed her captain in an outstanding effort – 75* off 86 with six fours and a six – to carry the side home at the start of the last over. She hit four boundaries in a breezy, unbeaten 19 off 20 balls. The Women’s Ashes are in a precarious position with two ODIs remaining after Australia went 6-0 up after winning the lone Test and the first T20I. However, Australia has now dropped three straight limited-overs games worth two points apiece.

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