Women’s Ashes: England and Australia draw Test in incredible finale

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Women’s Ashes, one-off Test, Manuka Oval (day four of four)
Australia 337-9 dec & 216-7 dec Mooney 63; Brunt 3-24
England 297 & 245-9
Match drawn

England and Australia drew the one-off Women’s Ashes Test in Canberra in one of the most incredible finales cricket has seen.

Chasing a record 257, England were on course for a stunning win and required 45 runs from 60 balls with seven wickets left.

But as the tension grew to a crescendo, England lost six wickets for just 26 runs, Australia fighting back to close in on a win that would have seen them retain the Ashes.

When two wickets fell with three overs to go, England’s suddenly switched to survival mode in an attempt to keep the series alive.

Number 11 Kate Cross faced 12 balls at the end, blocking out the final over to ensure the four points on offer for the Test were shared.

The finish was only possible because Australia declared on 216-7 half an hour before tea, leaving England 48 overs to reach their target.

The result leaves Australia leading 6-4 in the multi-format points-based series. They will only have to win one of the three one-day internationals that follow to retain the Ashes.

The first ODI begins at 03:10 GMT on Thursday, also at Manuka Oval.

Canberra witnesses one of cricket’s greatest finishes

At the end, incredibly, both sets of players will probably have left the field feeling disappointed. Both could have won a game that beggared belief.

Had England been victorious it would have been the highest successful chase in women’s Tests – and they began by making a hugely difficult task look relatively straightforward.

But all-rounder Nat Sciver pulled to square leg for 58 and as the pressure swung – England now feeling the heat of being favourites – so did the momentum.

Australia had resorted to defensive bowling and field-placings but suddenly a world-class team sensed their moment.

Beth Mooney, playing with metal plates in her jaw, pulled off a stunning catch at long-on to dismiss Sophia Dunkley, who had taken England to within 24 runs of their target by smashing 45 from 32 balls.

Debutant leg-spinner Alana King and seamer Annabel Sutherland, playing her second Test, capitalised as panic struck in the England camp, a desperate run-out of Anya Shrubsole adding to the incredible drama.

Until that point England had still been going for the win but with 14 balls remaining, Cross came out with only defence in mind.

Surrounded by catchers, she somehow kept her cool to navigate the final over bowled by King to ensure the series goes on one more game at least.

More to follow.

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