England kept their hopes of retaining the Women's Ashes alive after Sarah Taylor's half-century lifted them to a seven-wicket victory over Australia in the first Twenty20 at Chelmsford.
Anything other than an England win would have seen them lose the multi-format series to Australia, who had triumphed in the one-off Test and two of the three one-day internationals to establish an 8-2 lead.
But after the tourists were restricted to 122 for eight, Taylor starred with the bat, making exactly 50 and sharing a pivotal 77-run partnership with England captain Charlotte Edwards.
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Both Edwards and Taylor were dismissed before Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt got England over the line with 15 balls to spare.
Australia's advantage has been trimmed to four points now although England need to win the two remaining T20 matches to square the series and retain the urn.
England made the breakthrough in the second over after opting to field first, with Elyse Villani offering a simple return catch to Anya Shrubsole to depart for one.
But Ellyse Perry and captain Meg Lanning warmed to their task and had brought up Australia's 50 at the end of the ninth over, the highlight of which was Lanning lifting Jenny Gunn's first ball over long-leg for six.
Yet boundaries were generally hard to come by and Lanning's departure for 28, skying a Danielle Hazell full toss to Lydia Greenway at the cow corner boundary, was the start of wickets falling at regular intervals.
Perry top-scored with 30 but was bowled by Sciver, who also accounted for Jess Jonassen as Australia's order threatened to unravel.
Grace Harris was out of her ground in Sciver's next over and was one of three run-outs as Australia ended well-below par, having found the boundary rope just four times in the final 10 overs.
England lost Lauren Winfield early in their chase but Edwards and Taylor steadily accumulated - although the former was dropped on 19 by Villani at wide mid-off.
The pair also struggled to find the boundary rope but kept things ticking over with a rash of singles and victory looked assured, even when Edwards finally fell for 39, stumped off Erin Osborne.
Taylor moved to 50 off 42 balls with her fourth four but was dismissed off the next delivery, falling in identical circumstances to Edwards.
It mattered little though as two fours in the 18th over from Sciver (20no) saw England to a vital victory.
Edwards said: "It was a perfect team performance and one which was achieved under a lot of pressure because we had to win.
"We needed our top players to come to the party and they did so by proving their character and turning in a display like this.
"I'm extremely proud of the way Sarah Taylor played. It was a great effort on her part. Our fielding too was very good but we know the Aussies will come at us hard in our next match at Hove on Friday."
Lanning said: "We were never able to get the momentum needed. We lost wickets at regular intervals and at the end of the day, I have to admit that we were short in all departments compared with England."
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