Takes 3 for 12 to restrict England to 129 and scores 40 of those runs herself
Australia 5 for 131 (Perry 40, Gardner 31*, Cross 2-46) beat England 129 (Ecclestone 32*, Jones 28, McGrath 3-4, Perry 3-12, Jonassen 2-25) by 5 wickets
After a superb performance in the field restricted England to a paltry 129, Australia lost regular wickets on a tricky Junction Oval pitch but were held together by a fluent Perry, who top-scored with 40 off 64 balls to complement her earlier three-wicket haul.
Australia’s hopes of a quick chase nosedived with the early wickets of Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning, who was bowled for a duck by seamer Kate Cross. No. 4 Perry, who made a golden duck in the first ODI, was unperturbed as she drove her first two balls for fours in a show of intent.
Opener Alyssa Healy, however, couldn’t find her rhythm and scored just 13 off 33 balls before smashing Cross over cover for six. It failed to ignite her with Healy hitting quick Nat Sciver straight to mid-off as Australia wobbled at 49 for 3.
A pumped-up Sciver, who opened the bowling in place of the injured Katherine Brunt, utilised the short ball in a bid to rattle Perry, but she was up for the challenge and so too against the spin of Sophie Ecclestone. Her adept footwork was a real treat to watch.
With such a tame total to overhaul, Perry eyed being there at the end but was run out on a direct throw from Cross who had moments earlier injured her wrist after diving in the field.
It raised England’s faint hopes but several lusty blows from Ashleigh Gardner sealed victory in the 36th over for Australia, who gained another psychological edge ahead of the World Cup where the teams meet on March 5.
Having retained the Ashes after a 27-run win in the opening ODI in Canberra, Australia now boast a commanding 10-4 lead in the multi-format series ahead of the final game on Tuesday. England needed to replicate the 2017 Ashes when they won the final two T20Is to square the series 8-all but a sluggish batting effort proved costly amid sunny Melbourne conditions.
Perry bounced back from a lacklustre performance in Canberra by removing opener Tammy Beaumont after wicketkeeper Healy held a brilliant outstretched catch in her right glove. It was Perry’s first ODI wicket since October 2019 but she briefly took a back seat to the spin duo of King and Jonassen, who combined for 2-21 during 11 overs in tandem.
King, a Melbourne local supported by friends and family wearing ‘Alana Army’ t-shirts in the terraces, grabbed her first ODI wicket when she trapped opener Lauren Winfield-Hill to trigger another England collapse in this series.
A miserly Jonassen picked up a frustrated Sciver then trapped England captain Heather Knight, who fell lbw for the third straight time in the series. Lanning, who could seemingly do no wrong with her bowling changes, took a blinder at first slip to dismiss Danni Wyatt as a red-hot Australia enjoyed a purple patch in the field.
Australia’s efforts were made even more impressive without their two match-winners from the opening ODI after Beth Mooney rested and Darcie Brown missed due to general soreness. They will be aiming to finish the series on a high at the same venue on Tuesday and ensure England – like their male counterparts – leave Australia without tasting victory in the Ashes.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth