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Aussies on cusp of another Ashes winengineers England fightback
Aussies on cusp of another Ashes winengineers England fightback

Australia face an uphill battle to win the first Ashes Test at the WACA Ground tomorrow after a top-order collapse tonight.

The home side are 5-57 at stumps, chasing 185, after they had earlier dismissed England for 190 in their second innings.

Star all-rounder Ellyse Perry, who top scored with 71 in the first innings, will return to the crease this morning alongside Sarah Elliott (five not out) to try and rescue Australia’s second innings.

The Australians were flying at 0-28, with Test debutant Elyse Villani on 21 and vice-captain Meg Lanning on seven when Villani’s aggressive play brought her undone.

They then lost another four wickets for just 29 runs as England took control of the match, which is worth six points to the winner.

Test debutant Kathryn Cross was the key destroyer, producing a brilliant nine-over spell to finish with figures of 3-13.

Villani, who should have been caught in the first over, hit five fours on her way to 21 before she skied another Katherine Brunt delivery and was caught by Sciver.

From there the scoring dried up for the home side, going almost 30 balls without scoring before Cross had vice-captain Lanning caught behind for just 15 runs.

That brought Jess Cameron to the crease, but she was walking back the other way seconds later, caught by Knight at first slip for a golden duck.

New batter Alex Blackwell survived Cross’ hat-trick ball but was still out for a fifth-ball duck after she was caught behind off the debutant’s brilliant bowling.

Skipper Jodie Fields, who helped rescue the first innings with Perry, arrived at the crease with her side reeling at 4-40 but only survived four overs before she was stumped by Sarah Taylor down the leg side off the bowling of Gunn on 13.

Earlier Perry backed up her brilliant day two performance to play an almost lone hand in the Australian bowling attack, taking four wickets to finish with 5-38 in the second innings and eight wickets for the match.

England resumed at 3-18 with Arran Brindle (three) and Natalie Sciver (six) at the wicket.

The pair, who top scored in the tourists’ 201 first innings total, made a positive start, surviving the opening eight-over spell from leading quicks Perry and Rene Farrell and moving the total beyond 30.

Fields then brought on medium pacer Sarah Coyte and rising star Holly Ferling at the other end.

But the pair were unable to make inroads as the England lead closed in on 50 without loss through the first hour of play and then reached their 50 partnership in the 19th over, before Perry struck in the next over at the start of her third spell of the innings.

The all-rounder was targeting the off stump and finally connected on the fourth ball of her sixth over of the day to dismiss plucky Test debutant Sciver for 23 and break up a fruitful partnership which had reestablished the visitors in the game after Farrell and Perry ripped through their top order last night.
Perry again provided the impetus before lunch, trapping the dangerous Brindle lbw when she was on 35.

Edwards was passed fit to come in at seven after a knee scare yesterday prevented her from opening the batting and she arrived at the crease with her side in trouble at 5-73.

She and Gunn steadied, adding 20 runs before lunch before putting the foot down after the break.

Edwards reached her half century off just 61 balls and brought up England’s 150 in the very next ball.

Fields finally brought Perry back on almost two hours after the lunch break to try and break the 85-run partnership.

And the 23-year-old delivered with her fourth ball, catching Edwards on the toe to dismiss the veteran lbw.

Coyte chipped in five overs later to have new batter Danielle Hazell (4) edging one through to Fields to reduce the visitors to 7-171.

Osborne claimed the first wicket from spin bowling in the match on the stroke of tea, dismissing Gunn caught behind when she was closing in on her first Test half century.

It took seven overs after tea to clean up the English tail, with Anya Shrubsole (seven) the first to go nicking to Fields, who took a spectacular one-handed catch.

It was appropriate that Perry take the final wicket and she delivered again, bowling Kathryn Cross for a sixth-ball duck to end the innings.