Meg Lanning has edged Australia closer to retaining the Ashes after a fightback with Rachael Haynes helped their team to 7-327 in the sole Test against England.
Lanning narrowly missed out on her maiden Test century on a big opening day in Canberra, but still peeled off the biggest score by an Australian captain in a home Ashes Test.
After coming to the wicket at 3-43, Lanning’s 93 helped Australia steady the ship and then emerge on top as part of a 169-run stand with Haynes.
Haynes also fell just short of her first Test century, watching Australia lose its first two wickets for just three runs before finishing on 86 herself.
Ashleigh Gardner also hit a quickfire 56 from 74 balls late in the day, while a wild shot from Tahlia McGrath on the final ball of the day saw her caught behind on 56.
Australia has the firm advantage at Manuka Oval with the host already leading the multi-format series 4-2.
No team has ever been beaten in the 142 women’s Tests played when it has scored in excess of 300 in the opening innings.
That figure is helped by the fact that matches are only given four days, with a significant number of those results ending in draws.
A win for Australia in Canberra will ensure it wraps up the Ashes, while a draw would mean it only needs to win one of the three ensuing ODIs to retain the trophy.
And if Australia does keep the Ashes for a fourth straight series, it will have Haynes and Lanning to thank for it.
When Alyssa Healy (0), Beth Mooney (3) and Ellyse Perry (18) fell early, Katherine Brunt (3-52) and Nat Sciver (3-41) looked as if they had put England back in the series.
But after hitting an unbeaten 64 in Australia’s series-opening Twenty20 win, Lanning cut beautifully on Thursday and hit the ball nicely through the offside.
It came as England often bowled too short and wide, with Haynes also making use of any width in the highest score by an Australian opener this century.
England also missed crucial chances, including two when Lanning was on zero and 14 in the slips that would have swung the game.
Australia’s skipper also survived a shout for both lbw and caught behind, with the third umpire ruling it had come off her forearm on review and ball-tracking showing the ball going over the stumps.
Haynes was also put down on 44, before the pair both fell within three balls of each other after tea and made way for the Gardner and McGrath counterpunch.