Aust extend lead in Women’s Ashes Test

Australia will head into the fourth and final day of their one-off Women’s Ashes Test with a lead of 196 and six wickets standing after England fought back between the downpours in Canterbury.

Rain meant only 38 overs were possible on the third day, with Australia getting through to stumps on 90 for four.

Test debutant Jess Jonassen, who made 99 in the first innings, was 29 not out.

England already need a world record run-chase in women’s Test cricket if they are to win this match.

This is a multi-format Ashes, in contrast to the men’s version, in which England took an unbeatable 3-1 lead in a five-match series in the fourth Test last weekend.

Australia’s women are currently four points to two in front after the one-day international leg of the series, and there are four points out of a remaining 10 on offer to the winners of the lone Test.

The tourists already had a substantial first-innings lead of 106 when play resumed under grey skies on Thursday.

Australia, however, England quick Katherine Brunt took opener Elyse Villani for a duck, then in the next over bowled Australia captain Meg Lanning, also out for nought, leaving the visitors 2-2 after three overs.

Thunderstorms and lightning strikes then halted play for four hours.

When the match resumed, Anya Shrubsole had Ellyse Perry well caught by wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor for 13, to leave Australia 19 for three.

Nicole Bolton fell next, looping a catch to cover off a Kate Cross delivery that bounced out of the bowlers’ rough.

It seemed England had a fifth wicket when Alex Blackwell, on nine, caught at slip by Heather Knight off Brunt.

Blackwell was given out and had almost walked off the field when Australia called for the first review in women’s Test cricket history.

Third umpire Martin Saggers, after lengthy study, eventually decided there was sufficient doubt to recall Blackwell, who was 15 not out when rain finally put paid to the day’s play.

Bolton was adamant her side would be going for the win on Friday, and said there was no temptation to play for a draw.

“It’s that opportunity to win it, and both sides want to play that attacking brand of cricket. If either side was in a position to win the game, they’d definitely take it,” she said.

“We’ve definitely got the calibre of players in our order to post a really good total, come out tomorrow, play with intent and put England under pressure.”

Brunt added: “We put ourselves on the back foot after two days, so we were determined to come out here and turn things around.

“That’s exactly what we’ve done and we’ll come out with a lot more batting positivity tomorrow.”

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