Danni Wyatt’s knock of 76 from 46 balls laid the foundations for England to win the second T20I against Australia at The Kia Oval and maintain their Ashes hopes.
Wyatt, who shared an opening stand of 57 with Sophia Dunkley, had to spearhead a repair job after England’s middle order crumbled, losing five wickets for 19, including a first-ball duck for captain Heather Knight on her 100th T20 international appearance.
But the home side recovered to post 186-9 and their spinners successfully defended that total, with Sarah Glenn taking 2-27 and Sophie Ecclestone 2-35 to restrict Australia to 183-8 in reply.
The three-run victory means England now trail Australia 6-2 in the multi-format Ashes series, with the third and final T20I at Lord’s on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 6.30pm.
England, who made just one change to the team defeated in the opening match of the series at Edgbaston – with Charlie Dean replacing Freya Davies – were put in again after Alyssa Healy won the toss.
But Dunkley started strongly, taking two early boundaries off Darcie Brown and Wyatt soon followed her lead, lifting spinner Ashleigh Gardner over the top to bring up a 50 partnership in the powerplay.
However, Dunkley – given a life when Tahlia McGrath spilled a skier at cover – eventually departed for 23 from 19, slicing Brown to the same fielder, although she needed a fourth attempt to complete the one-handed grab.
Nat Sciver-Brunt (23 from 18) adopted a pugnacious approach, punching Gardner to the mid-wicket boundary but gave her the charge next ball and holed out to long-on, sparking an England collapse.
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Having deceived Alice Capsey with a slow bouncer, Annabel Sutherland’s next delivery slid away to take Knight’s off stump and she followed it in the next over with a smart diving catch in the deep to dismiss Amy Jones.
With Danielle Gibson also departing cheaply, England were deep in trouble at 119-6 but Wyatt led a fightback, reaching her 12th T20I half-century from 36 balls and rattling four consecutive boundaries as Megan Schutt’s penultimate over disappeared for 25.
Although Wyatt carved Sutherland (3-28) to third man, spirited hitting by Ecclestone (22 from 12) lifted England beyond 180, only for the visitors to respond by racing to 59-0 in the seventh over.
Lauren Bell’s second over cost 17 and Healy’s deft footwork enabled her to deposit Sciver-Brunt over the rope twice in an over as she reached 37 from 19 – but Glenn made the breakthrough, foxing Australia’s skipper with a change of pace.
That triggered a rush of wickets, with McGrath run out by Dean’s quick thinking at mid-on and Beth Mooney holing out to deep mid-wicket before Ecclestone took a return catch to dismiss Gardner and claim her 100th T20I wicket – the fastest player to that landmark.
Ellyse Perry refused to concede the chase, clubbing Gibson for two commanding fours and gained valiant support from Sutherland (20 from 12) before Georgia Wareham (19 from 11) launched a late assault on Dean.
But, although Perry (51no) slammed sixes off Ecclestone’s last two deliveries of the game to post an unbeaten half-century from 27 balls, it was not quite enough to shut England out of Ashes contention.
Knight soaks up Oval atmosphere | Ecclestone ‘buzzing’ with win
England captain Heather Knight:
“What a game! A pretty-much packed house at The Oval… I took a look around at the end and soaked it all up.
“It was probably always going to be a close one, but we got over the line and I’m really proud of how the girls played.
“We’ve still got more in the tank and areas where we can definitely get better. To win at only 80 per cent is a very good effort.
“One game at a time. The equation is very simple and hopefully we can have the crowd on our side and another good one at Lord’s.”
Australia captain Alyssa Healy:
“A little bit of everything [went wrong]. I’m not sure we were that great in all three facets, so to get three runs shy was a pretty good effort.
“A bit to tidy up. At the back-end with the ball again, we bowled a heap of extras, and we let ourselves down in the chase a little bit.
“We’re allowed to lose games of cricket. We just didn’t execute as much as we’d have liked. Fair play to England, they came out swinging.”
England’s Sophie Ecclestone, speaking to Sky Sports:
“We said we need keep the dream alive and we have. We knew what we needed to do, that was to go out and win – and we play better when we enjoy ourselves.
“I love being under pressure in the last over and I’m absolutely buzzing to get over the line.
“The crowd were all behind us, which is great and we go again on Saturday. It’s going to be unbelievable, to play at Lord’s is the dream so it’ll be really exciting to get there.”
The T20I series decider takes place at Lord’s on Saturday Wednesday (6.35pm start), with live coverage on Sky Sports.
The multi-format series then switches to three one-day internationals, with fixtures at Bristol on Wednesday July 12 (1pm start), the Ageas Bowl on Sunday July 16 (11am start) and Taunton on Tuesday July 18 (1pm start).
Women’s Ashes schedule (all games live on Sky Sports)
- Test match (Trent Bridge) – Thursday June 22 – Monday June 26 – Australia won by 89 runs
- First T20 international (Edgbaston) – Saturday July 1 – Australia won by 4 wickets
- Second T20 international (The Kia Oval) – Wednesday July 5 (6.35pm start)
- Third T20 international (Lord’s) – Saturday July 8 (6.35pm start)
- First one-day international (Unique Stadium, Bristol) – Wednesday, July 12 (1pm start)
- Second one-day international (The Ageas Bowl) – Sunday July 16 (11am start)
- Third one-day international (Taunton) – Tuesday July 18 (1pm start)