|Women’s Ashes: First one-day international, Brisbane (Allan Border Field)|
|England 228-9 (50 overs): Winfield 48, Sciver 36, Gardner 3-47|
|Australia 231-8 (49.1 overs): Blackwell 67*, Villani 38, Hartley 2-40|
|Australia won by two wickets; lead multi-format series 2-0 on points|
|Scorecard (external site)|
Australia began their Women’s Ashes defence with a tight two-wicket victory over England in the first one-day international in Brisbane.
Lauren Winfield (48) top-scored for England as they made 228-8, with off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner taking 3-47.
Alex Blackwell (67 not out) anchored Australia’s response but the home side slipped to 181-6 with seven overs left.
However, Gardner (27) struck two sixes in an important cameo as Australia won with five balls remaining.
In the multi-format series, teams earn two points for a win in all limited-overs games, with four points for a win in the Test.
The second ODI begins on Thursday at Coffs Harbour (04:40 BST).
The fact that England came so close is a credit to their skill with the ball, after their batting fell short.
Winfield and Sarah Taylor (34) put on 56 for the second wicket, but Winfield’s run-out, along with some good fielding from Australia, slowed England’s middle order.
Elyse Villani took a superb catch on the edge of the boundary to dismiss Natalie Sciver for 36, and prevent England from accelerating in the final few overs.
In reply, Australia – who will be without injured captain Meg Lanning for the whole series – were reduced to 20-2 as England’s seamers began tightly, and they kept the hosts in check for the first 20 overs.
However, veteran Blackwell steadied the side, and she was helped after Alex Hartley dropped a simple caught and bowled chance with the batter on 36.
Blackwell recovered quickly, hitting seven boundaries in her 86-ball innings, and Gardner’s big hitting late in the game swung things Australia’s way.
England came close to pulling off a surprise victory as Amanda-Jade Wellington was run out by Sciver from mid-wicket to leave two runs needed from the final six balls, but Jess Jonassen drove her first delivery for four to ensure Australia’s victory.