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Blackwell steers Australia Women in tense chase against England

Alex Blackwell (right) played a splendid knock
Alex Blackwell (right) played a splendid knock
©REUTERS
 

Australia Women 231-8 (Blackwell 67no) beat
England Women 228-9 (Winfield 48) by two wickets
First One-Day International in Brisbane

Alex Blackwell played a responsible inning of unbeaten 67 while Ashleigh Gardner supported her with a blistering cameo down the order as Australia Women chased down 229 against England Women with two wickets in hand to kick-start the Women's Ashes 2017 tournament with a win in Brisbane.

Chasing 229 for a win, Alyssa Healy (18) started the innings positively but a double blow from England saw the home side lose both the openers and reduced to 20 for two.

Ellyse Perry (20), Elyse Villani (38) and skipper Rachael Haynes (30) all got starts but failed to carry on big. As the innings were reeling at 87 for four, Blackwell (67 not out) and Haynes shared the decisive partnership of 63 runs for the fifth wicket to bring the chase on track.

Just as Australia were coasting along, Alex Hartley's (2-40) struck second time in the innings to dismiss Haynes and Tahlia McGrath (7), who was holding one end up for Blackwell too perished after a 26-ball grind. Australia needed 47 runs to win off 44 deliveries at that stage with four wickets in hand.

This is when Gardner (27) played a blinder of a knock in just 18 deliveries that included two apiece of boundaries and sixes to ease the pressure on Blackwell who went past her half-century. Even though England picked Gardner and Amanda Wellington (3), Blackwell did remain calm and ensured Australia crossed the line in 49.1 overs with two wickets in hand.

The win also means Australia have taken a 2-0 point lead in the multi-format Ashes series.

Earlier, it was England's top order of Lauren Winfield (48), Tammy Beaumont (24) and Sarah Taylor (34) that helped them lay a solid platform but despite contributions from Natalie Sciver (36) and Fran Wilson (26), the visitors failed to kick on and were restricted to 228 for nine in their 50 overs with Gardner (3-47) being the pick of the Australian bowlers.

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