Nat Sciver-Brunt scores another ton as England completes a white-ball double

Nat Sciver-Brunt’s brilliance wounded Australia for the second time in a row, and while they won in Southampton by a narrow margin to retain the Ashes, they were not spared in Taunton, where the talismanic batsman’s second consecutive hundred led to the visitors’ first bilateral ODI series loss since 2013. Despite being behind 0-6 at one point, England’s 69-run victory in the rain-affected match allowed them to tie the 2023 Women’s Ashes 8-8.

Alyssa Healy’s team needed to complete their second-highest run chase in the format to win the ODI series as well as the Ashes after Nat Sciver-Brunt’s 129 pushed England to 285 runs. They were given a revised target of 269 to reach in 44 overs after rain delays caused the game to be postponed for an hour. With the exception of Ellyse Perry’s quick 50 and Ashleigh Gardner’s explosive 24-ball 41, the visitors’ batters failed to produce much, as they succumbed to a crushing loss.

Healy won the toss and decided to put England in with the prospect of rain approaching, but interestingly, Australia made the most of the early running in this decisive match. After four overs, only 12 runs had been scored before Gardner and Megan Schutt struck, dismissing the England openers. At that point, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Heather Knight, two professionals, teamed up. But by the time the powerplay was up, the two senior pros had helped England increase its score to 43/2.

Sciver-Brunt cautiously constructed by thwarting Alana King’s spin. Before she removed King for a four and a six wide of long-on, a well-timed cover drive raised England’s 50. As another boundary, off Georgia Wareham, gave Sciver-Brunt her half-century and Knight dropped Wareham over the ropes in the same area of the ground, the long-on boundary against the spinners continued to be quite the hot spot.

Sciver-Brunt was on 54 when Tahlia McGrath spared her from her own bowling. After that, she dug in for the long haul as Australia continued to make a comeback in the match. First, King accounted for Knight for 67 to end the 147-run. Alice Capsey soon holed out to long-on off Jess Jonassen. The lively Danielle Wyatt relieved Sciver-Brunt of any run-rate concerns as she methodically built from one end. Wyatt scored 43 off only 25 balls, a knock that included four smashes to the fence and two over it, as the partnership amassed 66 runs off just 43 balls. 

It was a total that needed to be contested with a solid opening. However, Australia refused to help them in any way when they faced Lauren Bell. In the second over, Bell caught Phoebe Litchfield and then got past Healy’s line of defense with a delivery that nipped back to smash the top of the middle stump. From 15/2, Perry and Tahlia McGrath had a stand of 53 runs before the latter was caught off Sophie Ecclestone. With a half-century, Perry kept Australia in the game, but soon Kate Cross had her skying to point. After that, Cross had Beth Mooney chip a straightforward catch to mid-off, leaving the visitors at 120/5.

With a blistering 24-ball knock of 41 that mirrored Wyatt’s earlier efforts in intent and tempo, Gardner kept Australia’s fight alive. The writing was on the wall for Australia, though, who lacked someone like Sciver-Brunt to give the scoring weight, once she was forced to leave. They ultimately gave up in the 36th over, losing by a score of 69 runs using the DLS system.

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