England women took a big step towards retaining the Ashes after completing a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Australia in the first one-day international in Melbourne.
Lydia Greenway (69 not out) and Arran Brindle (64no) put on an unbroken 142 to lead England to their victory target of 210 with 19 balls to spare.
Charlotte Edwards’s side now lead the series 8-0, after winning the one-off Test which was worth six points, and now need just one victory in either the remaining two ODIs or three Twenty20s to win the urn again.
The hosts won the toss but lost Elyse Villani early on after she was trapped in front by Anya Shrubsole.
Fellow opener and Australia captain Meg Lanning made just 13, while Jess Cameron added 21 to leave Australia 68-3 at the halfway stage of their innings.
But Alex Blackwell and Ellyse Perry led a recovery, with the duo frustrating England’s bowlers in an unbroken partnership of 141 for the fourth wicket.
Blackwell led the way with five fours and a six in her 82 not out, while Perry was more than a useful foil in her unbeaten 65 off 78 balls as Australia reached 209-3.
England made a decent start in reply, with Edwards and Heather Knight putting on exactly 50 before the latter fell for nine.
Sarah Taylor was also dismissed for a single-figure score while Edwards, who had looked in good touch, perished four balls later, as the tourists also fell to 68-3, although they reached that score six overs earlier than Australia.
Brindle settled to her task quickly with a four, although Greenway required 17 balls to get off the mark.
Yet the two steadily grew in confidence and Greenway brought up her half-century with her fifth four, with Brindle following suit in identical fashion during the next over.
By then England were well and truly on the way to victory, which they completed from the penultimate ball of the 47th over thanks to a single from Brindle.
Afterwards, however, Greenway refused to take a series victory for granted, labelling that “a dangerous game to play” despite only two more points now being required.
“When England and Australia play each other in any sport it is always going to be huge competition,” she said.
“On the pitch we play hard and off the pitch we respect each other.”
Reflecting on the success at the MCG, she added: “It’s a good win – although it probably looks a little more comfortable than it actually was.
“It was a tough batting track and you have to get in and play with responsibility.
“Arran did really well and Heather and Charlotte got us off to a good start.”