Australia took a two-point lead in the multi-format Ashes series, winning the first ODI by two wickets in a tense low-scoring game in Leicester. After Ellyse Perry’s three-fer in the opening spell pinned England down to 177, Alyssa Healy hit a brisk 66 to set up Australia’s chase that wasn’t without roadblocks but the visiting team’s lower-order held its nerves better to claim the series opener.
Perry vindicated her captain’s decision to bowl first by taking out Amy Jones for a third-ball duck in England’s second over. The hosts had barely recovered when Perry struck again, this time to take out the other opener, Tammy Beaumont. England, in fact, lost three wickets – including that of Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight – with their score stuck on 19.Natalie Sciver then held one end up to arrest the slide, and with contributions coming from lower down the order, took England to 135 before getting dismissed for a hard-earned 64 that included half a dozen boundaries. Her dismissal, though, didn’t send England spiralling as Laura Marsh (24 not out) and Sophie Ecclestone (27) put on valuable 38 runs for the ninth wicket partnership that eventually gave England a sub-par but respectable 177 as they folded inside 47 overs.Megan Schutt, Jess Jonassen and Ashleigh Gardner all chipped in with to wickets apiece.
England were much more impressive with the ball, reducing Australia to a bothersome 105 for 5 in the modest chase, of which Healy alone had made 66. Anya Shrubsole had Nicole Bolton caught behind for 2, Katherine Brunt trapped Meg Lanning in front of the stumps for 16 while Taylor’s lightening-fast glovework was on display as she stumped Perry for just 3 off the bowling of Sciver.