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Gardner strikes as Australia edge ahead in Women's Ashes Test

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Last updated on 26 Jun 2023 | 03:24 AM
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Gardner strikes as Australia edge ahead in Women's Ashes Test

Chasing 268, England started steadily before losing four wickets ith four wickets in the span of 29 deliveries before stumps

Ashleigh Gardner left England in a spin to give Australia the advantage in the lone Women's Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Gardner scalped three top-order wickets to reduce England to 116 for five at stumps on Day four of the one-off Test. 

That left England needing a further 152 to reach a victory target of 268 on Monday's final day.

Australia require just five more wickets, having removed England's top order, including first-innings double-century maker Tammy Beaumont -- succumbed to Gardner as the off-spinner returned 3-33 in nine overs.

The 26-year-old also dismissed star all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt and England captain Heather Knight before stumps to rattle the home team. 

"Ash has been amazing. Her off-spin bowling has been great," Australia opener Beth Mooney, who top-scored with 85 in the Ashes-holders second-innings 257, told the BBC. "She's an absolute game-changer for us."

Earlier, England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone took her second five-wicket haul of the Test to finish with remarkable match figures of 10-192 from 77.1 overs.

But she could only watch as England suffered a top-order collapse, with four wickets lost in 29 balls as her side slumped to 73-4.

England will look to Danni Wyatt (20 not out) and Kate Cross (five not out) to bail them out of trouble. 

"We have to believe we can win tomorrow," Ecclestone told Sky Sports. "I think if I hit the winning runs, that will top it off! We need Kate Cross and Danni Wyatt to keep batting."

She added: "Hopefully, we can put Australia under pressure and go at them."

Unlike the ongoing five-Test men's Ashes, the women's series is a multi-format contest. Victory in the Test is worth four points, and a win in each of the three subsequent three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s two points, with Australia the world champions in both white-ball formats.

Emma Lamb and Beaumont, whose 208 in the first innings was the highest individual Test score for England Women, made a solid start to the chase.

But the introduction of Gardner turned the tide in Australia's favour.

Gardner had Beaumont nicking to slip for 22 and Sciver-Brunt top-edging to short leg before removing the experienced Knight, lbw for just nine, with a sharply turning delivery.

(With inputs from AFP)

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