Drama galore as Ashes Test ends in a thrilling draw at the Manuka Oval
Ashes Test © Getty Images
The final day at the Manuka Oval in Canberra in the Ashes Test between Australia and England on Sunday (January 30) had everything. Chasing 257 from 48 overs in the final innings, the visitors fell just short by a few runs while the hosts came back brilliantly in the last hour to push for a win themselves. The match ended in a draw eventually after a lot of drama and several abs and flows.
Earlier in the day, Australia resumed their innings on 12 for 2 with Ellyse Perry and Beth Mooney in the middle. The pair started chipping away with runs on both sides of the wicket, with some rotation of strike and the occasional boundary. Before rain came in on day three, England seemed to have an upper hand. However, that was lost by the time they returned on the field the next day.
Perry and Mooney looked comfortable for most of the time and to help their cause, both were dropped by wicketkeeper Amy Jones to deflate the England players a bit more. As Australia’s score went past 100, Perry leaned forward to defend one delivery by Sophie Ecclestone and failed to get her bat first and eventually was adjudged LBW for 41.
A few moments before that, Mooney had gone past her second Test fifty. But, at the stroke of Lunch, debutante Charlie Dean got her maiden wicket when she got rid of the southpaw for 63. Australia headed into the break at 123 for 4, leading by 163 runs. Meg Lanning was joined by Tahlia McGrath after the break as Australia hoped to get a move-on. But Katherine Brunt came back to dismiss Lanning caught at slips for 12.
The wicket brought Ashleigh Gardner on the wicket. Fresh from winning the Belinda Clark medal, the all-rounder looked to change the momentum of the innings. She took on Ecclestone, cutting her through the off-side for a few boundaries. As the lead went past 200, England almost seemed like waiting for a declaration as the discussion of how Australia already had a record run chase lined up for their opposition, started doing rounds.
Gardner was finally dismissed for a run-a-ball 38 when Natalie Sciver came back to the attack and tried the short ball tactic. After that dismissal, McGrath looked to take on the England bowlers a bit more. However, after hitting a boundary off Dean, McGrath went for already big shot, but the ball spun back a bit too much for her liking and ended up clipping the stumps.
Jess Jonassen came in next and smashed three boundaries from the six balls she played, scoring 14 runs, taking the lead past 250. Lanning, who had been waiting for Australia to get past that mark, declared the innings, leaving England to chase 257 runs from 48 overs.
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The openers didn’t get off to a flying start, but from the looks of it was Tammy Beaumont who was given the role of being the aggressor while Lauren Winfield-Hill was tasked to hold one end. Till Tea, Beaumont had already scored 18 from 20 while her partner had managed just four runs, with England being 23 for 0 in six overs.
Heading into the final session, all three results were on the cards. Beaumont continued to be on the charge but her innings was cut short on 36 by McGrath’s delivery when she was caught on covers by Rachael Haynes, who took a blinder. As Heather Knight came to the middle, there was a sense of upping the ante by the visitors, with the skipper hitting four boundaries in the first three overs of her stay, to make her intentions clear.
Winfield-Hill then looked to take the game on, but after two boundaries, she lost her timing to a ball by Perry and was caught by Haynes for 33. Natalie Sciver came in next and a boundary of her second ball started a fantastic partnership between her and Knight which was going to deflate the Australian hopes for sometime.
The pair didn’t get much of a chance, but managed to keep the required rate around six. The regular strike rotation and occasional boundary saw the hosts go on the backfoot quickly. On top of that, the wicket seemed to offer nothing during this phase, helping the causes of the England batters even more.
Heading into the last hour of play, 17 overs were left and England needed 104 runs with eight wickets in hand. Sciver hit two boundaries in the two overs and her limited-overs gameplay was coming to the forefront. But, after 72 runs of the partnership, Knight fell LBW for 48 to a fuller delivery by Darcie Brown. Sophia Dunkley walked in next and was given LBW out of her very first delivery but the decision was reviewed and overturned.
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But Dunkley took the charge from Sciver, stroking a few boundaries in the next couple of overs, stepping out on a few occasions. As the senior pro notched up her fifty, Dunkley hit two back to back sixes off the bowling of Annabel Sutherland to put England in the box-seat. With 11 overs to go, England needed only 53 runs and the momentum was with them.
A couple of low-scoring overs saw England seek out an upsurge. Sciver hit a brilliant four of Sutherland but then managed to play a pull shot, which she had played exceptionally well till that point, straight to Lanning at mid-wicket. She fell for 58. Sutherland’s next over brought the wicket of Jones, who tried to slog over the in-field but was brilliantly caught by Beth Mooney between mid-wicket and long-on.
Heading into the last five overs, Dunkley was batting on 45 and the visitors needed 25 runs. The young batter went for a slog sweep to a tossed up delivery and was caught magnificently by Mooney once again. Sutherland came back in the next over, to bowl a short-pitch delivery outside the off stump which Brunt tried to cut and only managed to edge it to the wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.
England were seven wickets down by now, but not all hopes were lost. Alana King’s next over produced a turning point as Anya Shrubsole went for a cheeky single, only ending up getting run-out off a brilliant throw by Healy. King was quick and managed to dislodge the stumps properly in the end. Dean tried to slog King off the next delivery and ended up being caught by Healy as England’s ninth wicket fell.
The visitors still needed 13 runs off the last two overs, but Kate Cross decided to shut shop, defending every delivery in those last overs. With one wicket left, Australia failed to seize a miraculous win and England didn’t manage to get over the line. The match was drawn.
Australia 337/9 d (Meg Lanning 93; Katherine Brunt 5/60) and 216/7 d (Beth Mooney 63, Katherine Brunt 3/24) drew with England 297 all-out (Heather Knight 168*, Ellyse Perry 3/57) and 245/9 (Natalie Sciver 58, Annabel Sutherland 3/69).