Fighting fifties by Amy Jones and Natalie Sciver took England to 199 runs for the loss of six wickets at stumps on day three of the one-off Test against Australia here at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Saturday.
Despite England batters' efforts, the hosts fell 71 runs short of the follow-on mark. Debutant left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux rattled England's middle-order, forcing them to trail by 221 runs against Australia. Having whitewashed the ODIs and resultant six points already in the pocket of Kangaroo, Australia have moved closer to bag four more points that will help them retain the Ashes.
Australia declared their innings on 420 runs for the loss of eight wickets, which saw Beth Mooney completing her fifty, and put England to bat before lunch. Ellyse Perry made a solid start with the ball as she crashed the top of middle-and-off of Tamsin Beaumont for a golden duck to give Australia a massive breakthrough.
After resumption, Jones and her skipper Heather Knight hit regular boundaries and stitched a 79-run partnership for the second wicket. In the 24th over, Molineux bagged her maiden Test wicket in the name of the England skipper as Knight (28) got leg-before off Molineux. Georgia Elwiss joined Jones but could not stay longer as Nicole Bolton's direct hit run out Elwiss (9).
Sciver joined Jones but as the duo started to play cautiously, Jones (64) gave an easy catch to Rachael Haynes at mid-off on Molineux's ball. The opener's innings saw 12 boundaries. Star wicket-keeper batter Sarah Taylor came out to bat at number six. Molineux returned and picked up her third wicket of the day as Taylor (5) got leg-before off the leg-arm spinner.
Katherine Brunt played the role of second fiddle to Sciver as the latter played aggressive shots in a hope to take England to a comfortable position. The all-rounders added 57 runs for the sixth wicket and along the way, Sciver hit the 100000th run in the history of women's Test cricket as she ran for a single off Tayla Vlaeminck on the last ball of 61st over. Sciver too brought up her first Test fifty but soon after another debutant, offspinner Ashleigh Gardner joined the party as she took her maiden Test wicket.
Brunt (15) played the ball but it clattered the stumps off Gardner, bringing in Anya Shrubsole. Sciver and Shrubsole remained unbeaten on 62 and one, respectively, at stumps. For Australia, Molineux was the pick of the bowlers on day three as she returned with three wickets, while Perry and Gardner got apiece.
Earlier, rain played spoilsport on day two and only 42 overs were bowled. It saw Perry (116) registering her second century in the format but Haynes missed out the opportunity as she got leg-before off Laura Marsh for 87. (ANI)