Bolton and Healy turned up at the crease confronting a small total and made India feel miserable for their failed batting effort. © BCCI

Bolton and Healy turned up at the crease confronting a small total and made India feel miserable for their failed batting effort. © BCCI

On the back of an unbeaten century from Nicole Bolton, Australia Women replicated their form in the warm-ups with a dominant display against India Women to post an eight-wicket win in the opening One-Day International at the Reliance Stadium in Vadodara on Monday (March 12).

Arriving in India for the three-match series as part of the ICC Women’s Championship, Meg Lanning’s unit pulled off comprehensive wins in two warm-up fixtures against India A. When the series proper kicked off, the intensity remained much the same and they stuck to winning ways.

India were handicapped by the absence of Mithali Raj, their regular skipper who was unwell. After Harmanpreet Kaur won the toss and elected to bat first, the spin duo of Jess Jonassen (4 for 30) and Amanda-Jade Wellington (3 for 24) shared seven wickets between them to bundle the hosts out for 200 in 50 overs.

In response, Australia showed no signs of fraying as they cruised to 202 for 2 in 32.1 overs.

Prior the contest, Kaur had said that India’s focus would be largely but not only be on Meg Lanning and Elysse Perry. As it turned out, it was Bolton they had to worry about the most as the opener smashed 100 from 101 balls with 12 fours. Lanning was too was integral in the run chase with a 33-ball 38. Alyssa Healy’s contribution as the other opener was a 29-ball 38 that put India on the back foot from the get-go.

India got off to a sturdy start on opting to bat with Poonam Raut looking in good nick en route to 37. However, Smriti Mandhana’s dismissal for 12 by Ashleigh Gardner, the offspinner, with the team on 38 triggered a collapse that eventually cost India the game.

India were down five top-order wickets inside 90 runs and three of those wickets belonged to the spinners.

Wellington, the legspinner, accounted for Raut and debutant Jemimah Rodrigues (1), while Jonassen bagged Deepti Sharma with her slow left-arm orthodox. Megan Schutt got rid of the dangerous Kaur for 9, the only wicket to fall to a pacer all innings.

In a face-saving effort, Sushma Verma came up with a crucial 41 coming in at No. 7. An even more impressive 56-ball 51 was scripted by Pooja Vastrakar, the medium pacer, batting at No. 9, as the two added 76 for the eighth wicket after India had been floundering at 113 for 7.

Bolton and Healy turned up at the crease confronting a small total and made India feel miserable for their failed batting effort.

The openers added 60 inside the first ten overs to take the fight out of the hosts. Shikha Pandey managed to get rid of Healy, but Lanning, despite returning to cricket after a seven-month injury break, was on top of her game and ably aided Bolton to bring Australia within 73 runs of the target before being run out by Veda Krishnamurthy.

Bolton, on 74 when Lanning was dismissed, switched gears almost immediately in the company of Perry. While Perry kept cool and rotated strike in her knock of 25 not out, Bolton put the long handle to great use as the Indians watched on, contemplating their game plan for the next contest on March 15.

With their third win from four matches, Australia climbed to No. 2, behind New Zealand, in the Championship table, while India tumbled to the fourth spot with two wins and as many losses from four matches played.

Brief scores: India Women 200 all out in 50 overs (Poonam Raut 37, Sushma Verma 41, Pooja Vastrakar 51; Amanda Jade-Wellington 3 for 24, Jess Jonassen 4-30) lost to Australia Women 202 for 2 in 32.1 overs (Nicola Bolton 100 n.o., Alyssa Healy 38, Meg Lanning 33, Ellyse Perry 25 n.o.) by eight wickets.