Alex Blackwell remained unbeaten on 67    Getty Images
Alex Blackwell remained unbeaten on 67 Getty Images

Australia Women were off to a rollicking start, winning the first match of the 3-ODI series against England Women. This was the opening battle of the Women s Ashes 2017-18 played at Allan Border Field, Brisbane. Set to chase 229, Alex Blackwell held the home side together making an unbeaten 67. This is also the first match under International Cricket Council s newly introduced ICC Women’s Championship.

Australia s chase started poorly after they lost Alyssa Healey and Nicole Bolton under 20 runs. Ellyse Perry and Elyse Villani then steadied the ship. The pair added a 54-run stand, before Perry fell for 20. Viliani soon was run out for 87 with Australia on 87 for 4.

Blackwell, along with skipper Rachel Hayes, resisted England s formidable attack. They added 63 runs for the fifth wicket before Hayes was out for 30. Blackwell continued her gritty innings despite Tahlia McGrath going for a mere 7.

England smelled blood as Australia found themselves in trouble at 181 for 6. It needed a quick-fire 27 by Ashleigh Gardner to thwart their chances of a win. Blackwell recorded her 25th ODI half-century.

Soon, Gardner departed, and it was up to Blackwell to guide their side to victory. In the end Blackwell remained not out on 67* along with Jess Jonassen (3*) to hand Australia a 2-wicket win.

For England Women, it was Katherine Brunt and Alex Hartley who picked 2 wickets each. Star of England s World Cup win Anya Shrubsole picked a wicket.

Asked to bat first, England innings were off to a solid start with Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont adding 47 runs in no time. Beaumont was out for 24 off Elyse Perry.

Sarah Taylor came at No.3 and looked fluent as ever. Winfield missed her half-century by 2 runs, falling for 48 as England s total crossed 100-run mark.

Since then England kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Star players such as Heather Knight (15), Fran Wilson (26) and Natalie Sciver (36) could not convert their starts into big knocks. It was Garnder who rocked their middle order with a 3-for.

Megan Schutt came in at the end and wrapped up the lower-order in no time. Shrubsole s 9-ball 11 that helped England reach 228 for 8.

Brief score:

England Women 228 for 8 in 50 overs Lauren Winfield 48, Natalie Sciver 36; Ashleigh Gardner 3 for 47) lost to Australia Women 231 for 8 in 49.1 overs (Alex Blackwell 67*, Elyse Villani 38; Alex Hartley 2 for 40) by 2 wickets.