Heather Knight and Georgia Elwiss made an unbeaten 117 to force the draw on the final day of the Women's Ashes Test and keep England's series hopes alive.
England captain Heather Knight and Georgia Elwiss summoned up all their reserves of defiance to bat through 62 overs at the North Sydney Oval, securing a draw and keeping their team in the Women's Ashes.
The day began with Australia needing 10 wickets to claim four series points but they could only manage two with Knight and Elwiss putting on 117 for the third wicket.
Knight ended on 79 and Elwiss 41 when the skippers shook hands with an hour to go at 8.30pm.
Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield had given England the ideal start under lights on day three, negotiating 17 overs without too much alarm to reach 40/0.
That meant England resumed 128 behind – 10 wickets in hand but nerves on edge.
The openers progressed the score to 71, scoring slightly more sedately than they had the previous evening, before an Aussie leg-spinner made the breakthrough.
Amanda-Jade Wellington may not yet have the variation of Shane Warne but her leg-spin has dip, flight and turn. A bit of all three saw the back of Beaumont, bowled for 37.
Every wicket was bound to make England tense up but arriving at No.3 was Knight, England’s skipper, who looked in good touch in the first innings before being given out lbw.
You sensed she knew she had a job to finish.
She and Winfield batted for a further 11 overs, adding 18 runs and chipping away at both the Australian lead and the time left in the game, before Tahlia McGrath trapped Winfield in front for 34.
It was one run short of Winfield’s highest Test score but given the game situation, she will have been happy to eat up 100 deliveries.
At two down England’s hearts will have begun to flutter that little bit more.
With time left until the tea interval a third wicket could have been damaging.
The ball was soft and the pitch flat but many sides have collapsed on a final day when the pressure’s been on.
Fortunately for the visitors Knight was joined by Elwiss, and neither was going to give Australia a sniff.
Both were a picture of grim determination and while the run-rate was never rocketing – and the forward defence was probably the shot most often on display – it was a crucial partnership on a day when England could easily have been biting fingernails all day.
A bit of extra spice was added when Australia took the new pink ball before the dinner break but, despite a couple of appeals and a spell of short-pitched bowling from Ellyse Perry, England weren’t too alarmed.
The pair continued their defiance after the dinner session, maintaining concentration under the lights to see Knight pass 50 for the second time in the match and take their side into the lead before the teams shook hands with a share of the points.
photos Janos Schmidt