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Australia victory opens lead
By Rob Barnett
Australia moved two points ahead in the Women’s Ashes with a tense, 27-run win at Lord’s in the opening one-day international.
The tourists’ 203 for eight on a slow and sun-baked pitch proved too much for Charlotte Edwards’ side, who were dismissed with 15 balls of their innings unused.
It moves Australia to four points while England have two, with 10 still available from two more ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals.
Australia’s spinners strangled the hosts, who were reasonably placed at 99 for one in the 28th over when Sarah Taylor and Edwards were going well. Yet Taylor was lbw for 22 to slow-left-armer Jess Jonassen, who then had Lydia Greenway caught behind.
Off-spinner Erin Osborne made the most telling breakthrough when she induced a nick behind from Edwards, attempting to cut on 61, that left England 142 for four in the 38th.
Soon after, the batting powerplay yielded just 18 runs and the last six wickets went for 34 as Jonassen returned limited-overs-best figures of 4-38 and Osborne took 3-39.
Charlotte Edwards is crucially caught behind for 61 off Erin Osborne as England slip to 142 for four en route to 176 all out
Edwards and Arran Brindle had steadily added 63 by the 19th over on a slowing surface until Brindle holed out off Osborne for 21. Twenty-five from last week’s Test centurion Heather Knight was England’s only other double-figure score besides Edwards’ and Taylor’s.
Australia’s 203 for eight owed much to 56 from Meg Lanning, although Katherine Brunt impressed with 3-29 and Laura Marsh with 2-27.
Having won the toss on a gloriously sunny day, it seemed Australia had been limited to a below-par total in the first match to be steamed live by the ECB.
Brunt had Rachael Haynes caught and bowled in the first over and Jess Cameron held at square-leg soon after.
Opener Lanning, who regularly hit fours over the infield, led a strong riposte with 56 from 64 balls. She shared a sprightly 74-run stand with skipper Jodie Fields until being caught at mid-on off Marsh.
Marsh similarly had Fields held at mid-off for 32 before England limited their opponents to 28 in the batting powerplay, during which Alex Blackwell was run out for 23.
The hosts continued to chip away in the closing overs when Jenny Gunn became England’s leading ODI wicket-taker with her 103rd scalp.
Speaking after the match, Marsh said: “At the halfway mark we were very confident with the run-chase and set a good platform at the start, but unfortunately lost some key wickets at crucial times.
“We need to step up and take responsibility; there were some good contributions at the top of the order but I think we can all hold our hands up and say we can do much better than that.
“Katherine Brunt led the attack well and everyone contributed with the ball, which was great. We would back ourselves to chase that total and everyone is very disappointed."
She added: "We will assess what went wrong but we will also take the positives; we bowled really well and we’ll be looking to move on to Hove and perform much better there on Friday.”