Nat Sciver-Brunt leads England to ODI series win as Ashes end all square

Nat Sciver-Brunt was the hero again as England claimed a Women’s Ashes series draw with a 69-run win over Australia on the DLS method in the final ODI in Taunton.

Victory saw the multi-series format drawn 8-8, the same score as when England last avoided Ashes defeat in Australia five years ago, and meant England had won both the ODI and Twenty20 series 2-1.

Australia had retained the Ashes by winning the second ODI in Southampton on Sunday.

Fresh from her unbeaten 111 at Southampton, Sciver-Brunt made her second hundred in the space of three days – 129 from 149 balls – as Australia were set a challenging 286 for victory.

Batting of the highest order also secured Sciver-Brunt a fourth century from five ODIs against Australia, and the seventh of her England career in this format.

Australia’s target was reduced to 269 from 44 overs by rain and, despite Ashleigh Gardner providing brief hope with a bludgeoning 41 from 24 balls, England ran out comfortable winners to the delight of a capacity crowd.

England, having lost the toss, were soon in trouble as openers Sophia Dunkley and Tammy Beaumont departed with just 12 runs on the board.

Captain Heather Knight and Sciver-Brunt rose to the challenge of repairing the innings, leading England to 43 for two by the end of the first powerplay after 10 overs.

Runs came freely with Knight finding gaps in the field with ease and Sciver-Brunt, who survived a stumping review off Gardner on 25, landing a six on the boundary cushion with imperious precision.

Nat Sciver-Brunt hits out during her century as wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy looks on
Nat Sciver-Brunt hits out during her century (Steven Paston/PA)

But with McGrath spilling a return chance off Sciver-Brunt, then on 54, the third-wicket partnership was worth 147 when Knight advanced down the wicket to Alana King and was bowled for 67, her 72-ball stay containing six fours and a six.

Alice Capsey dragged Jess Jonassen to long-on for five but huge roars greeted Sciver-Brunt as she reached three figures off 126 balls.

England entered the final 10 overs seeking to accelerate and Danni Wyatt played the perfect cameo with a whirlwind 43 from 25 balls before being bowled attempting to cut a full-length ball from Gardner.

Amy Jones was run out for six and Sciver-Brunt’s resistance finally ended in the 48th over as Jonassen tempted an airborne pull into the safe hands of Gardner.

The latter then won an lbw review against Charlie Dean to finish with three for 39 and Jonassen also collected a third scalp by castling Kate Cross as England closed on 285 for nine.

Australia, as England had done, lost two early wickets. Phoebe Litchfield fell for one to Lauren Bell, with Sophie Ecclestone accepting a low chance at first slip, and Alyssa Healy was cleaned up by a beauty from Cross as Australia slipped to 15 for two.

Kate Cross, right, celebrates bowling out Australia's Alyssa Healy, left
Kate Cross, right, celebrates bowling out Australia’s Alyssa Healy, left (Steven Paston/PA)

Tahlia McGrath appeared well set on 26 as Australia steadied the ship, but Ecclestone’s flight deceived her and Jones completed a smart stumping.

The players were forced off by rain with Australia 97 for three after 19.2 overs, with England facing potential heartbreak as they needed to bowl 20 overs to constitute a completed match.

But the players were back on the field 54 minutes later, with Australia’s revised target asking them to score at seven runs an over.

Ellyse Perry, having reached her half-century with a free-hit six, provided a steepling catch to Capsey off Cross on 53, and Beth Mooney drove straight to Ecclestone at mid-off to give Cross a third victim.

Australia were given hope as Gardner went on the offensive, taking 17 from a Bell over, but her acceptance of a risky second after Sutherland drove through the covers proved fatal as she was just short of her ground when Cross took the bails off from Wyatt’s throw.

Australia never recovered as Jones produced another excellent stumping to remove Wareham for 14 and Dean, called up with Sarah Glenn needing surgery for appendicitis, bowled Sutherland for 18.

King went for nought as Jones held a towering catch and England’s win was completed as Bell held a thick edge from Jonassen at short third.