England lose to Australia by just two runs at the Women's Cricket World Cup

Australia 147 England 145 (Australia win by three runs)

Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, admitted poor shots were to blame as the reigning champions fell short of Australia in agonising fashion in the first of three Women’s World Cup Super Six matches yesterday, damaging their hopes of qualifying for the final.

Edwards’ side now travel to Cuttack to play South Africa tomorrow in what is a must-win game, before facing New Zealand in Mumbai on Wednesday.

In a low-scoring affair in Mumbai yesterday, Australia were bowled out for 147 with just over five overs remaining, with a sixth-wicket partnership of 82 between Lisa Sthalekar and Sarah Coyte boosting their total.

Arran Brindle and Holly Colvin took two wickets apiece to help see off Australia’s lower order, but England’s reply struggled, being reduced to 39 for 6 at one stage. Lydia Greenway hit 49 to give England a chance, and her stand with Laura Marsh for the seventh-wicket dragged them back into the contest. The pair’s partnership was patient, with a risk-free approach seemingly the only way of getting England out of trouble. They pounced on loose balls and ran well, registering a half-century off 136 balls.

It was broken when a questionable lbw decision saw Marsh walk for 22, but Greenway continued to edge towards a half-century until she threw away her wicket one run short, caught by Sthalekar after a sloppy cover drive.

The last-wicket pair Anya Shrubsole and Colvin stood firm and looked on course to snatch England an unlikely win, with the latter’s introduction seeing her take three fours off the first four balls she faced, setting Australian nerves jangling.

But Colvin was caught behind off Erin Osborne with just three runs needed off the last three and a half overs to hand Australia victory.

“We’re disappointed to get so close, but that’s cricket and we’ve got to come back stronger,” said Edwards. “The reason we’ve lost this game is because of poor shots and a couple of bad decisions which have really cost us. We’ve got strength in depth in our order and we still believed we could win towards the end, and Holly played fantastically well.

“We’re disappointed now but with this competition you’ve got to forget about it and move on to the next game, and hopefully we can win the last two.”

In winning, Australia extended the run that has seen them go unbeaten against England in World Cup matches since 1993, while also striking a blow to the holders’ chances of coming out of the Super Six stage in the top two.

Elsewhere in the Super Sixes yesterday, New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka by eight wickets  to move to four points from three games. The Sri Lankans were bowled out for 103, with Lea Tahuhu taking four wickets before the Kiwis chased down the runs in 23 overs.

The West Indies also have four points following a two-wicket victory over South Africa. Chasing 231 to win, the Caribbean side survived a middle-order collapse to scramble home in the 46th over.