Half-centuries from Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor guided England to a five-wicket win against Australia in the third Women's Ashes One-Day International match at the County Ground in Hove on Sunday (August 25). Rain delayed the start of play for a little more than three hours, forcing the match to be reduced to a 36 overs-per-side affair.
England rallied admirably from 0-1 in the three-ODI series to win two on the trot to seal a series victory.
Chasing 204, England lost Charlotte Edwards, the captain, for 8 in the third over to Erin Osborne. Thereafter, Knight and Taylor came together and ensured the run-rate was always around the five-run mark, putting Australia under the pump. There was little respite for Australia as both Knight and Taylor kept pace with the other.
Osborne finally dislodged Knight for 69 from 65 balls in the 21st over and 10 balls later, Taylor too departed for 64 from 59 balls, to give Australia a chance to claw their way back into the game. Australia pounced immediately, running out Arran Brindle for 11, but England were still ahead in the stakes, needing 38 from 55 balls with six wickets in hand.
Lydia Greenway (18) became Osborne's third victim as England were closing in on the target, but Natalie Sciver (18) and Jenny Gunn (3) guided them to a five-wicket win with 16 balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, Australia won the toss and elected to bat. Australia started off poorly, losing Alyssa Healy in the second over, caught by Danielle Hazell of Anya Shrubsole's bowling. Meg Lanning and Jess Cameron steadied the innings, bringing up the 50-run partnership at the end of the 12th over. Cameron, who topscored for Australia in the 2nd ODI with 81, couldn't carry on this time, perishing for 28 to Hazell.
Lanning, though, was unperturbed and raced to a half-century at nearly run-a-ball with Jodie Fields for company. Australia were looking dangerous, but Holly Colvin provided England with the breakthrough, breaching the defences of Lanning in the 25th over to dismiss her for a 69-ball 67 that included nine fours. Hazell removed Fields (27) in the following over to leave Australia 126 for four and it appeared that England were well and truly on top, with two new batters at the crease.
However, Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell demonstrated that Australia still had plenty of firepower left and went on the offensive straightaway. Perry, unbeaten on 45 from 38 balls, and Blackwell, unbeaten on 35 from 29 balls, bludgeoned England in the death overs to steer Australia to a competitive 203 for 4.