England stages stunning comeback to level Ashes series

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Heather Knight (right) and her ninth wicket partner, Kate Cross. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters
Heather Knight (right) and her ninth wicket partner, Kate Cross. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images/Reuters

England achieved a remarkable comeback victory against Australia in the first ODI of the series and levelled the Ashes series at 6-6. The thrilling match in Bristol witnessed a stellar performance from England’s captain, Heather Knight, who guided her team to a nerve-shredding two-wicket win with 11 balls to spare.

England’s chase of 264 runs seemed precarious as they stuttered their way to 235 for eight, with Knight standing strong and finishing unbeaten on 75. In a display of nerves of steel, Knight sealed the victory by hitting the winning boundary through cover-point. The triumph not only levelled the series but also halted Australia’s unbeaten streak in ODIs since September 2021, making England’s goal of regaining the Ashes tantalisingly within reach.

The match started with a flurry of boundaries from Tammy Beaumont and Alice Capsey, propelling England to their highest-ever powerplay total of 84 runs in the first 10 overs. Beaumont’s clean hitting showcased the decision to omit her from the T20 squad as laughable, while Capsey continued her impressive form with a disdainful onslaught against the Australian bowlers.

However, a double breakthrough by Australia’s spinners halted England’s dominance. Beaumont fell for 47, and Capsey departed 10 runs shy of a half-century. Despite the setback, England’s commanding lead allowed them to focus on careful game management. Knight formed a crucial partnership with Nat Sciver-Brunt, stabilising the innings and adding 42 runs. But a middle-order collapse left England teetering at 207 for six.

Ash Gardner’s three-wicket haul pushed England to the brink, leaving them in need of a rescue act. Knight found an ally in Kate Cross, who contributed crucial boundaries in a 32-run partnership for the ninth wicket. Together, they guided England to a dramatic victory, sparking jubilation among the home crowd.

Earlier, Australia had posted a competitive total of 263 for eight, with Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 81 as the centerpiece. England’s spinners, including the surprise inclusion of Alice Capsey, played a vital role in limiting Australia’s scoring during the middle overs.

The match also showcased England’s mixed fielding performance, with both dropped catches and exceptional grabs. Despite the let-offs, Lauren Bell’s magic inswinger provided a crucial breakthrough, and Sophie Ecclestone’s acrobatic catch displayed exceptional athleticism.

With the series level at six points apiece, England now faces the task of winning the remaining two ODIs to secure Ashes glory. The enthralling contest in Bristol has set the stage for a thrilling finale in the battle for cricket’s ultimate prize.

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