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England and Australia share dramatic draw in Test as Women’s Ashes remain alive

England and Australia both came close to snatching victory in a thrilling finale before the one-off Test at Canberra finished in a draw to keep the Women’s Ashes alive.

An attacking declaration from Australia captain Meg Lanning just before tea on the fourth and final day set England a target of 257 runs to win off 48 overs, where a victory for the hosts would see them retain the Ashes.

The tourists had looked on course for a famous win as they were left needing 45 runs off the final 60 balls with seven wickets in hand.

However, Australia battled back and were favourites themselves after reducing England to 244 for nine in the 46th over.

But, in a final twist to the tale, Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone kept Australia at bay for the final 13 balls to snatch a dramatic draw.

Australia started the final day on 12 for two but with a lead of 52 runs on a wearing pitch and looking to push for a victory and four-point haul which would stretch their series lead to an unassailable 8-2.

Beth Mooney (63) and Ellyse Perry (41) repaired the damage done by Katherine Brunt’s late double breakthrough the previous day as they put on 91 for the third wicket.

Ashleigh Gardner (38) and Tahlia McGrath (34) also made decent contributions to allow Lanning the chance to declare with the score on 216 for seven, setting the scene for an astonishing final session.

Needing more than five runs an over but knowing they would gain the upper hand in the fight for the Ashes with victory, England set about their run chase with gusto.

Tammy Beaumont (36) and Lauren Winfield-Hill (33) laid the platform with an opening stand of 52 in 14 overs before captain Heather Knight – fresh from her stunning first-innings 168 not out – Nat Sciver and Sophia Dunkley upped the tempo.

Knight made 48 off 54 balls and Sciver 58 off 62 before Dunkley smashed five fours and two sixes in her 32-ball 45 as England put themselves in the box seat to claim a remarkable win.

But Australia roared back and, after reducing England from a position of strength at 218 for three to 244 for nine as Knight’s team continued to push for the win, it was the home side who were suddenly favourites.

Australia needed just one more wicket to clinch the Ashes, but Cross batted out the final two overs to claim a draw for England in a nerve-wracking finish.

The result gives both sides two points each and leaves Australia leading 6-4 heading into the concluding three one-day internationals.

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