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Nat Sciver century in vain as England fall short in World Cup opener


Nat Sciver’s stunning century proved to be in vain as England opened their Women’s World Cup defence with a 12-run defeat to Australia.

England failed to win a single match in the multi-format Women’s Ashes last month but pushed the pre-tournament favourites all the way in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Australia opener Rachael Haynes played the decisive role with a brilliant century, hitting 130 as her side posted 310 for three from their 50 overs – with captain Meg Lanning adding 86.

Sciver, who also took two wickets, gave England hope that they could chase down the target by making 109 from just 85 balls, leaving the defending champions requiring 16 from the final over.

But Jess Jonassen bowled a superb over, conceding just four runs and taking two wickets as Australia got over the line on an emotional day when they paid tribute to Rod Marsh and Shane Warne after their deaths on Friday.

On a day to celebrate leg-spin, Alana King claimed three England wickets, and paid her own tribute to Warne by tapping her black armband.

Haynes starred at the top of the Australian batting order, hitting 130 from 131 balls to put her side in a strong position for an opening victory.

England showed a lot of resilience towards the back end of their innings, led by Sciver, following the dismissal of captain Heather Knight and Beaumont – who made 74 – but were unable to keep up with the required run rate as they started losing wickets.

Beaumont had escaped an early scare when she was dropped by Lanning for just four and went on to move past 3,000 runs in the format after bringing up her half-century from 54 balls.

The Kent opener and Knight looked to be in control, before the skipper picked out Lanning at cover with a wayward attempt at a drive to push the scoring rate on for 40.

Nat Sciver’s century was in vain (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

(AP)

The loss of Beaumont further impacted England’s hopes of getting their World Cup title defence off to a winning start. King lured the opener forward with a ball that turned past the bat, as Alyssa Healy whipped the bails off to leave Beaumont stranded.

England reached 128 for two at the halfway stage of their innings, but it was the loss of wickets which would ultimately seal the victory for Lanning’s side.

Sciver’s introduction increased England’s run rate, including taking 13 off Ellyse Perry in the 32nd over, but she was unable to build partnerships, with Danni Wyatt making just seven and Amy Jones four.

England were still in with a chance ahead of the final over before an exceptional one-handed caught and bowled from Jonassen to dismiss Katherine Brunt for 25 put an end to their hopes as Sophie Ecclestone also fell from the final delivery as Australia wrapped up the win.

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