Cricket

Australia take charge of Ashes series

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England will have to come from behind if they are to retain the Women's Ashes after Australia won the last of the three-match Royal London one-day internationals in Worcester by 89 runs.

Meg Lanning showed her class for the second successive match, following a century in Australia's series-levelling win in Bristol on Thursday by defying a slow New Road pitch to make 85 from 89 balls - and making England pay for fluffing a run out chance when she was still in single figures.

Ellyse Perry provided crucial support with 67 from 58 balls, continuing her consistent series with the bat, as Australia posted a total of 241 for seven - then dealt a huge double blow to England's run chase by dismissing Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor in her first two overs.

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The home team never really recovered, succumbing tamely to 152 all out and a defeat that leaves them 4-2 down in the multi-format Ashes - although there are 10 points still to be play for, starting with the Kia Test at Canterbury next week.

The win also lifts Australia five points clear at the top of the ICC Women's World Championship, and seven ahead of England who remain in fourth - with only the top four teams securing automatic qualification to the 2017 World Cup.

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England had chosen to bowl first on a fresh and cloudy morning after Sunday's rain had forced the match into the reserve day.

They made a decent start, restricting Australia's openers to 24 in the first 10 overs before Georgia Elwiss had Elyse Villani chipping to deep midwicket with her first ball of the series.

The pressure led to a mix-up between Lanning and Nicole Bolton which left Australia's captain stranded, but Elwiss was unable to gather Natalie Sciver's return from midwicket.

Instead of reducing Australia to 49 for two, England had to wait until the 27th over before their next breakthrough, when Laura Marsh took a good catch at mid-off to dismiss Bolton for 40 from 89 balls.

Alyssa Healy joined Lanning to step up the pace in a third-wicket stand of 31, but it was when Perry joined her captain that the real damage was done.

They put on 85 in 13 overs, with Lanning enjoying a second life when Lydia Greenway could not hold a sharp chance at point off Katherine Brunt.

She ended with decent figures of 10-2-37-0, and her new ball partner Anya Shrubsole was even more economical, conceding only 25 from her 10 overs - but they had both completed their allocation by the 39th over and Australia found runs much easier to come by against the rest of England's attack.

Lanning was denied a second consecutive century when she hoisted Jenny Gunn to Sciver at long-on, but Perry powered on to take her tally for the series to 193 at an average of 64.

She then underlined her all-round value by having Edwards caught behind from the fourth ball of the England innings, before Taylor played all around a straight delivery. When L auren Winfield was run out, the hosts were teetering on 30 for three.

Heather Knight and Lydia Greenway did their best to repair the damage with innings of 38 and 45 respectively and Brunt justified her promotion up the order with 31 from 36 balls - including the first six of the series by either side.

But after a fifth-wicket stand of 51 between Greenway and Brunt, the last six wickets tumbled for 29, three of them to the leg-spin of Kristen Beams.

England captain Edwards said: "We can't miss chances against world class players. We're going to get punished, and we've paid the price for that today.

"Australia have come back really well as we knew they would, but we just haven't been there in all three departments. Our opening bowlers have set the tone but we just haven't followed it on, and we haven't batted well enough."

England now have two weeks to lick their wounds and switch their focus to red-ball cricket, with a one-off Kia Test at Canterbury carrying the potential to turn the series around.

Edwards added: "We won the last Test against the Aussies so we can take confidence from that, but we know we're going to have to play a lot better."

Lanning said: "We wanted to outfield the opposition, and I thought we did that quite well.

"It is important to take your chances in the shorter form of the game. We were probably a bit timid in the first game of the series but it's great that we've been able to bounce back and take the series."

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Topics:
Australia cricket
England cricket
The Ashes
Cricket

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