(Reuters) – Captain Meg Lanning and left-hander Rachael Haynes put on a fourth-wicket partnership of 169 as Australia batted their way into a strong position on the first day of their Ashes test against England in Canberra on Thursday.
Lanning (93) fell just short of her maiden test century, while Haynes made 86 as Australia advanced to 327 for seven at stumps at Manuka Oval.
Tahlia McGrath (52) was out caught behind off pace bowler Nat Sciver off the last ball of the day.
Lanning was dropped before she got off the mark and then again on 14 when England captain Heather Knight grassed a regulation chance at first slip in the last over before lunch.
Knight later snaffled a much sharper chance off Sciver to finally send Lanning packing. Haynes fell four balls later, caught behind, when Katherine Brunt delivered a brute of a ball that reared up off a good length.
“Sometimes you just get a good delivery … that’s cricket,” said Haynes. “Not an ideal start. To have a good partnership with Meg was pretty crucial at that point in time.”
Knight had won the toss and chose to bowl, a decision that looked good early on when the visitors struck twice in the first four overs to have the home team four for two.
England’s Sciver (3-41) and Brunt (3-52) picked up three wickets apiece.
The multi-format Women’s Ashes series features three Twenty20s, a test and three one-day internationals (ODIs). Current holders Australia lead the series 4-2 on points and can retain the Ashes if they win the test.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)