Having won the toss England, who replaced off-spinner Danni Wyatt with batsman Amy Jones, decided to bat first and posted a respectable 268/4 with all their batsmen making contributions, but on a small ground, a good wicket and lightning outfield it was probably no more than a par score. Charlotte Edwards (34) and Heather Knight (57) got England off to a decent start, putting on 79 for the first wicket inside 20 overs. Knight and Sarah Taylor (64) were again setting down a good platform when Knight was needlessly run out by Rene Farrell at the non-striker’s end, having been sent back by Taylor. It took the wind out England’s sails as Lydia Greenway (25) struggled to find any fluency and the boundaries dried up. But both were still there as the batting powerplay was called in the 36th over. Taylor looked to up the pace off Perry going over the top of mid-off, but the diminutive Jess Cameron timed her leap perfectly and plucked the ball out of the air with her right hand to leave England on 194/3 in the 39th over. Greenway went shortly afterwards missing her trademark sweep shot off Osborne and being adjudged lbw. Nat Sciver (43*) and Arran Brindle (26*) managed to score 64 off the last nine overs, but Brindle only managed to hit one boundary in her 25 balls at the crease. A generous helping of 16 wides from the Aussies allowed England to reach a target that they probably felt confident to defend.
When Meg Lanning raced to 40 off just 30 balls and the Aussies to 57 within the first 10 overs of the Aussie reply the English nerves must have been starting to jangle. Another moment of sublime wicket-keeping by Sarah Taylor, stumping Lanning off a legside wide, seemed to have shifted the momentum back in England’s favour, and when Jess Cameron (5) was run out backing up at the non-striker’s end as Gunn flicked the ball onto the stumps, there was a general exhaling of breath. 64/2 became 81/3 when Nicole Bolton (31) swiped horribly across the line at the immaculate off-spin of Dani Hazell and was bowled. After their lightning start the run rate slowly dipped below 4.5 per over as Hazell and Gunn turned the screw, but Brindle and Kate Cross were more expensive as Alex Blackwell (51) and Ellyse Perry (90*) got the Southern Stars back into the game.
Once again Hazell, this time in partnership with Jenny Gunn, applied the brakes and the required rate steadily climbed, as first Blackwell and then Jess Jonassen, succumbed to the pressure. At the start of the 40th over the required rate had reached eight an over, but Charlotte Edwards was scrabbling around trying to find someone to bowl the last few overs. England’s lack of a second spinner was beginning to show. It would not have been surprising if Ellyse Perry had buckled under the strain, but Erin Osborne came in and took the pressure off Perry with a 25 ball 40*, including five precious boundaries.
They still needed eight an over off the last four overs, but Kate Cross was then hit for 12 runs off the 47th and suddenly it looked on for the Aussies. A sweetly struck six over midwicket by Ellyse Perry in Jenny Gunn’s next over all but sealed the deal. Five came off Shrubsole’s penultimate over, leaving Australia with six to win from the last. Osborne calmly dabbed the third ball of Sciver’s over to the boundary after two singles off the first two balls, and the Aussies were home.
England still need just one more win, but the Aussies will feel that they have England on the ropes after two successive victories. England will need to regroup and refocus ahead of the first T20I on the same ground on Wednesday. It may well be that they will prefer to chase so that they know what they have to score, rather than trying to set a score for the Aussies, whose tails are up, to chase. Worryingly for England Meg Lanning looked to have refound her touch and timing. She will be a key wicket for England as they strive to finish off the resolute Aussies in the T20 tournament.