Women’s Ashes 2017: Australia draw first blood as Ashleigh Gardner stars with bat and ball to down England

Ashleigh Gardner starred with ball and bat as Australia drew first blood in the Women’s Ashes by beating England in a tense series opening one-day international in Brisbane.

The 20-year-old followed up figures of three for 47 with a superb cameo of 27 from 18 balls, while Alex Blackwell underpinned Australia’s chase of 229 with an unbeaten 67 from 86 deliveries.

Blackwell was at the other end when Jess Jonassen creamed the first ball she faced for four which sealed a nervy two-wicket victory with five balls to spare for the Southern Stars at a sold out Allan Border Field.

England had earlier been restricted to 228 for nine after being put in to bat and it seemed they had done enough after Australia slipped to 181 for six in the 43rd over.

But Gardner marked her introduction to the crease with back-to-back fours off England’s World Cup hero Anya Shrubsole in the next over before clearing the rope twice to tilt the contest in Australia’s favour.

Ashleigh Gardner starred with three for 47 before hitting 27 off 18 balls (Getty)

By the time Gardner departed the equation was down to nine from 16 and although Amanda Wellington was run out, there was to be no late twist as Australia took the two points on offer in this multi-format series.

Each limited-overs contest is worth two points while the winner of the one-off Test – which takes place in-between the ODI and Twenty20 series – will collect four.

England had been beaten 10-8 in the last Ashes series but triumphed in the 50-over World Cup earlier this year and had recently displaced their rivals atop the International Cricket Council rankings.

Heather Knight reacts to a missed chance (Getty)

They seemed well-placed after reaching 103 for one but a 56-run stand between Lauren Winfield and Sarah Taylor was ended when a mix-up over a quick single left both players stranded in mid-pitch as the former was run out for 48.

Taylor departed for 34 after being trapped in front by off-spinner Gardner, who…

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