For the briefest of moments, there was a passage of play where England, if not on top, were competing with Australia. However, as has been the case all through this multi-format Ashes series, the calmness of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry guided Australia to a comfortable seven-wicket victory in the second T20I at the County Ground in Hove on Sunday (July 28) with 13 balls to spare.
England won the toss on a worn pitch and decided to bat. It felt like the right call. Historically, chasing in international games at Hove has been difficult— evidence in Australia’s successful defence of 107 in 2015.
As has become habit, Perry got into the act immediately, removing Amy Jones for the fourth time in the series. The right-hander chased a wide delivery and was caught by Wareham for a duck. Perry has bowled 10 balls at the England opener in the white-ball games of this series and taken the wicket of her former Loughborough Lightning teammate four times.
England’s streaky start saw them earn two boundaries via edges as Australia missed a trick not having any catchers behind the wicket.
Jess Jonnasen was introduced in the fourth over and she struck immediately when Danielle Wyatt was caught while coming down the track. Mooney took a smart catch running back from mid-on to send back the dangerous batter for nine. As has been the story through the series, England’s top order let them down, as Natalie Sciver was soon dismissed for eight by Wareham.
Tammy Beaumont continued to fight a lone battle, but the opener was living a charmed life it seemed. First she was lucky to survive a close lbw shout off Delissa Kimmince, and was then dropped by Mooney off the same bowler on 35. Beaumont’s luck, however, ran out when she lost her stumps against Jonassen trying to play an extravangant reverse sweep. Her 39-ball 43, consisting of four boundaries, was England’s highest score in the innings.
Just when it seemed the hosts had recovered slightly, Australia found a way to break the partnership— the story of the series so far. The fall of Beaumont meant England suffered a mini collapse as Heather Knight (19), Lauren Winfield (12) and Brunt (11) departed within the space of 20 runs.
The Australian spinners continued to apply the pressure, cutting down the scoring opportunities, slowing their pace and forcing England to create all the power in their shots. Kimmince and Megan Schutt too used their variations to good effect as England struggled to break free.
Ecclestone played a handy cameo at the back end of the innings to lift England’s score to 121 for 8. Her unbeaten 11-ball 17 included a six off the penultimate ball that gave the hosts something to cheer about.
For Australia Jonassen (2 for 19) and Wareham (2 for 22) were the pick of the bowlers.
The chase for the visitors started positively as Alyssa Healy struck three boundaries off the bowling of Georgia Elwiss in the first over of the innings. Sophie Ecclestone and Katherine Brunt turned the tide for England. Ecclestone bowling the third over only conceded 2 runs and that gave Brunt the opportunity to attack Healy with a short ball that the batter didn’t control and Jones took a simple catch. Healy was gone for 20.
Soon enough Ecclestone, the left arm spinner, struck in her second over. Beth Mooney was beaten by an arm ball from Ecclestone and missed and was castled while going for a pull shot. After the costly first over, England had come back strongly in the power play to reduce Australia to 34 for 2.
In the following over Ashleigh Gardner perished to short and wide delivery from Kate Cross that was comfortably pocketed by Laura Marsh at short third. On a pitch that was offering assistance to the spinners, all of a sudden Australia were in a spot of bother at 35 for 3.
However, the fall of Gardner saw the union of Lanning and Perry who provided solidarity to the innings with their assured strokeplay. Both batters looked comfortable in the middle and played risk free cricket as the hosts failed to make any further inroads.
Along the way, the pair brought up their fourth half-century partnership in T20Is. They struck nine boundaries and one six between them.
Through the course of her knock of 47, Perry became the first player, male or female, to complete the T20I double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. She brought up the milestone in style striking Brunt for four before jogging a single to complete an easy victory and seal the T20I-leg of the series, 2-0.
Australia’s victory at Hove means they have become the first team to defeat England in a bi-lateral T20I series since 2013-14. The visitors have thus taken a 12-2 lead in the series and maintain their unbeaten run going into the final match on Wednesday (July 31).
Attention now turns to Bristol where England will have their final chance to beat this dominant Australia side. If nothing else these teams will want to earn a psychological victory going into next years T20 World Cup in Australia.