Charlotte Edwards led England Women to an important win in the first ODI © Getty Images
Charlotte Edwards led England Women to an important win in the first ODI © Getty Images

Natalie Sciver’s 66 saw England to a four-wicket win in the first match of the multi-format Women’s Ashes series in Taunton on Tuesday. England, set a target of 239 for victory after holding Australia to 238 for nine in this 50-over one-day international, finished on 240 for six with 26 balls of the match remaining. Sciver and Lydia Greenway (53) oversaw England’s recovery from 80 for four in a century stand before both fell in sight of victory. Greenway hooked a full toss straight to midwicket before Sciver found mid-off with 22 runs required to win. Georgia Elwiss and Katherine Brunt scored the remaining runs to take the first two points on offer in the series. READ: Charlotte Edwards: Women’s Ashes 2015 most eagerly anticipated series of my career

England’s top order, including experienced captain Charlotte Edwards (15) and Sarah Taylor (30) all got starts but could not go on. Australia had earlier slumped to 35 for three before Ellyse Perry (78) and Alex Blackwell (58) shared a partnership of 121. For Perry, who made her name in cricket as a new-ball bowler, this was her sixth fifty in as many one-day international matches.  Their stand ended when Heather Knight ran out Blackwell with a direct hit from mid off. Perry, dropped on 21, later holed out to Sciver at deep mid-wicket. WATCH: Charlotte Edwards, Meg Lanning give insight into atmosphere ahead Women’s

A victorious Edwards, whose side hold the Ashes, told Sky Sports: “We talked about starting the series well. It’s something we haven’t done in the past. “We’ve done it as perfectly as we could have today. I thought we started brilliantly with the ball. Our fielding was outstanding at times and then that partnership between Sciver and Greenway was absolutely brilliant. And for Georgia Elwiss to come in and show her talent at the end was fantastic.”

Meanwhile Perry said: “The conditions were really tough because the outfield was so incredibly quick. But they showed great ability to hit the stumps for those run outs and all credit to them. “We didn’t have a great start with the bat and that was probably the difference, in the end.”

The format has been changed from the last Ashes, with the points for winning the lone Test match reduced from six to four, with all the limited-overs games providing two points for victory. This series continues with the second ODI at Bristol on Thursday.