England captain Heather Knight is “living in hope” of victory in the women’s Ashes Test against Australia after she led her team’s fightback on a rain-affected third day in Canberra.
After a career-best 168 not out guided England to 297 all out – a first-innings deficit of 40 – Katherine Brunt did some early damage to go to 50 Test wickets and leave the home side 12 for two when the skies opened in the afternoon.
England will need more of the same as Australia, with a lead of 52 on a wearing pitch, will still fancy their chances of claiming victory from this one-off Test and add four points to their 4-2 series lead.
The tourists also have a chance of winning, but Knight knows it will be dependent on rattling through the remaining Australian batters quickly on the final day.
“(The rain was) really frustrating. We put ourselves in a really good position and the way we came out before lunch was exactly what I asked of them,” Knight said.
“Brunty’s having a brilliant Test and the way she bowled – the aggression, the skill – hunting Australian wickets, and to pick up those two wickets felt like we could really break the game open, try and get them out for a cheap score and set up a chase, so obviously (it’s) a little bit frustrating.
“We are still holding out a little bit of hope, there’s a little bit of time left in the game so we are going to have bowl absolutely out of our skins to try and take early wickets and put the Aussies under the pump. We live in hope.
“We are focused on our plan, we are going to hit them hard in the morning, a 9.30am start might give us a little bit more with a bit of dew around. If we can skittle them it will set up a nice chase for us hopefully.”
The tourists needed something special and Knight – resuming the day on 127 not out – in partnership with Sophie Ecclestone (34) and Kate Cross (11), added another 60 runs to their overnight total.
They eked to within 40 runs of Australia’s first-innings total, but needed early inroads with the ball.
And Brunt obliged, dismissing opener Alyssa Healy for a second-ball duck and also removing Beth Mooney to set up a thrilling final day.
Knight became just the sixth woman to score an Ashes century home and away with her landmark innings, which she rates as her best.
“I think it’s my best innings for England, definitely,” Knight said. “The situation we were in, in an Ashes game against probably the best team in the world – I’m super pleased.
“I felt quite rusty at the start, they bowled pretty well with the first new ball, but when you’ve played a lot of white-ball cricket and you have a red-ball moving it’s quite hard not to have a little flirt with it and I did that a few times, but managed to get through that tricky period and when the spin came on I felt a lot more comfortable and found my rhythm.”