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Women's Cricket World Cup: England lose to Australia by 12 runs despite Nat Sciver century

Australia's Rachael Haynes starred with a knock of 130 from 131 balls to help her side post a score of 310-3 batting first; Nat Sciver finishes unbeaten on 109 from just 85 deliveries but England fall short on 298-8 in reply

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England lose the first game of the Women's Cricket World Cup to Australia by 12 runs in New Zealand

England suffered an agonising defeat to Australia in their Women's World Cup opener as they lost by 12 runs in Hamilton, despite a hugely impressive century from Nat Sciver. 

Australia posted a score of 310 for the loss of just three wickets after being sent in to bat, with opener Rachael Haynes firing 130 from 131 balls and captain Meg Lanning chipping in with 86.

England's response saw Lauren Winfield-Hill fall for a duck after four balls before Tammy Beaumont led the charge with 74 - passing 3,000 ODI runs in the process - until she was stumped by Alyssa Healy off the bowling of Alana King.

Sciver took the game deep with a magnificent, unbeaten 109 from 85 balls; England needed 16 from the final over to win but fell 12 short as Katherine Brunt (25) and Sophie Ecclestone (1) were both dismissed, with Sciver starved of the strike.

It was a sensational final six deliveries from Jess Jonassen, who caught and bowled Brunt with a superb one-handed grab. Leg-spinner King, meanwhile, was mightily impressive for Australia, taking 3-59 from her 10 overs, paying tribute to the late, great Shane Warne by patting her black armband in her celebration of the wicket of Beaumont.

Rachael Haynes of Australia celebrates her century against England
Image: Rachael Haynes of Australia celebrates her century against England

It was an Australian performance that greats Warne and Rod Marsh - both tragically lost in the last 48 hours - would have been proud of, with Haynes and Lanning sharing in a magnificent 196-run partnership for the second wicket to see the Aussies post their highest-ever total against England in a World Cup match.

England's attack had no answers, with the exception maybe of Sciver who claimed 2-68 from her 10 overs in a fine all-round display.

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Set 311 to win, what would be comfortably a record chase by an England team in ODI cricket, the defending 50-over world champs got off to the worst possible start as Winfield-Hill tamely chipped Megan Schutt's fourth ball of the innings straight to the fielder at mid-on.

Beaumont becomes quickest to 3,000 runs

Beaumont very nearly followed her back to the pavilion soon after, only for an uncharacteristic Lanning error, the Australian skipper dropping a simple chance at slip with the England opener on four.

Beaumont cashed in following the reprieve, becoming the fastest England batter to 3,000 ODI runs - taking just 78 innings, to beat Sarah Taylor's 87 - as she notched a 15th ODI fifty.

Beaumont shared in promising half-century stands with both Heather Knight (40) and Sciver, but England had the unhappy knack of losing a wicket just when well positioned to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Knight's was another soft dismissal, chipping Tahlia McGrath straight to cover, while Beaumont was deceived by a super bit of leg-spin bowling from King.

Amy Jones (4) and Danni Wyatt (7) came and went quickly, but England rebuilt through the brilliant Sciver and busy Sophia Dunkley (28), before the latter was bowled round her legs by King.

Brunt came in and struck some lusty blows, while Sciver brought up her richly-deserved century in the 48th over - the equation for England dropping from 36 needed from the last three, to 26 from the last two and 16 from the final over.

But Jonassen, who had conceded 16 runs from her first two overs before being pulled from the attack, came back and held her nerve to deliver Australia an impressive opening victory.

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Heather Knight felt there was 'lots of positives' to take from the opening game loss to Australia in the Women's Cricket World Cup, including Nat Sciver's century

What's next?

Australia are next in action in the early hours of Tuesday morning, taking on Pakistan from 1am, while England's second group-stage game is against the West Indies - who opened the tournament with an upset win over New Zealand - from 10pm on Tuesday evening.

Watch every game of the Women's Cricket World Cup live on Sky Sports Cricket, with Pakistan and India clashing next, live from 1am on Sunday.

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