Australia triumphed under the lights at Coffs Harbour to take the second ODI of the Women’s Ashes and go 4-0 up in points in the multi-format series.
Having opted to bowl first England struggled to make regular breakthroughs and Australia were able initially to set a promising platform, and eventually an imposing total of 296-6.
Captain Rachael Haynes was the star of the show, putting together an enterprising 89 from just 56 balls, although she was well supported by Nicole Bolton, Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry – all of whom passed 50.
It would have been a record chase for England, but their reply struggled to gain momentum after losing early wickets and they were dismissed for 209, losing by 75 runs (DLS).
With Australia needing a further four points to regain the Ashes, England will be desperate to get on the board. The third ODI is also at Coffs Harbour, underway at 00.15 BST on Sunday.
England started the day well, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole keeping things tight with the new ball and restricting Australia’s run-rate.
It was a trend continued initially by first-change bowlers Jenny Gunn and Nat Sciver – with the score just 44-0 after 13 overs – but in the 14th Alyssa Healy went on the front foot and scored 17, shifting the momentum the way of the hosts.
That over broke the shackles and Australia greeted the spin of Alex Hartley and Sophie Ecclestone with similar aggression.
When Healy fell to the last ball of the 20th over – bowled by Ecclestone, who showed good control on her Ashes bow – Australia had raced along to 98-1.
At Brisbane England were able to stem the flow of runs with wickets but Nicole Bolton was enthused by the arrival of Ellyse Perry and the hosts continued to push for runs.
Bolton began to add a bit of invention to her strokeplay, particularly against the spin, but that proved her undoing when she was bowled by Hartley trying to sweep having moved over to the off-side.
That brought Elyse Villani but her stay was brief, courtesy of a fine diving catch by Knight. Villani was the first of four wickets that would fall to Jenny Gunn, and on a day when England struggled to stem the flow of Australian runs Gunn was a modicum of control.
It was Villani’s departure that brought Haynes to the crease, and Australia began to accelerate further away.
Two quick wickets had given England hope of putting the brakes on but Haynes attacked from ball one, and with Perry at the other end Australia began to punish the visitors.
It wasn’t until the 46th over that the pair could be split, and only after they had put on 86 runs for the fourth wicket.
Gunn dismissed Perry – smartly stumped by Sarah Taylor – and although England were able to take a few wickets in the closing overs of Australia’s innings Haynes continued her assault to take her side to an imposing total of 296-6.
England knew they had a lot to do – their highest second-innings score ever was 272 and their highest successful chase 243-1, against New Zealand in 2008.
On that occasion keeping wickets in hand was crucial but it wasn’t to be the case this time round, with Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont both departing with the score under 20.
Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight rebuilt – a task made slightly easier after Ellyse Perry was removed from the attack for bowling two successive beamers above waist-height – but when Taylor nicked Tahlia McGrath behind to hand her her first ODI wicket there remained an awfully long way to go.
Nat Sciver followed soon after, chipping Jess Jonassen to mid-on, and she was joined by Knight, who was trapped in front to give Wellington a well-deserved first wicket of the series.
The middle order rallied in part but England’s fight was always in vain. Fran Wilson made 37 in putting on 68 with Katherine Brunt, and a slim silver lining was Brunt reaching 52 – her maiden ODI half-century.
It wasn’t to be enough for England to mount an improbable chase and they ended on 209, well short of Australia’s total.
Having won the Ashes in 2015, Australia need only a further four points to reach eight and with it retain the Ashes. England will be desperate to get on the board in the third ODI, at the same venue on Sunday.
Report courtesy of the ECB