A CENTURY from Australia debutant Nicole Bolton thwarted England Women’s first attempt to retain the Ashes as they fell to a 26-run defeat in the second one-day international in Melbourne.

The tourists came into the contest with an 8-0 lead on points, having won the Test and first ODI in the points-based multi-format series.

However, Bolton’s heroics helped Australia to a decent total of 266-7 and England fell just short of their target despite half-centuries for Heather Knight, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver.

The hosts opted to bat first and opener Bolton was lucky to escape dismissal in the second over when Jenny Gunn dropped a thick edge at gully.

That lapse came back to haunt England as the Australian made the most of the reprieve with a succession of fine shots on her way to a score of 124.

East Lancashire all-rounder Arran Brindle bowled six overs for 33 runs without taking a wicket as Jess Cameron (44) and a Alex Blackwell (56) set Australia on their way to a good total.

England’s reply was rocking on 13-2 before 55 from Heather Knight got England back on an even keel.

Sarah Taylor then added 63 and Brindle weighed in with 19 but the wickets continued to fall and Natalie Sciver’s 57 not enough as England came up short on 240.

England will have another chance to retain the Ashes in the third ODI on Sunday.