Alyssa Healy struck her maiden ODI century as Australia posted their highest ever ODI total against India. © BCCI

Alyssa Healy struck her maiden ODI century as Australia posted their highest ever ODI total against India. © BCCI

Alyssa Healy’s maiden One-Day International century and an excellent effort from the bowlers guided Australia Women to a 97-run victory and a 3-0 sweep against India Women in Vadodara on Sunday (March 18).

Opting to bat first, Australia rode on Healy’s 133 off 115, studded with 17 fours and two sixes, to post a daunting 332 for 7 – their highest total against India.

India’s reply began with a lot of promise, thanks to a century opening stand between Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues, but Australia’s bowlers kept chipping away to end their chase at 235 in 44.4 overs.

It was perhaps a few too many runs more than India would have expected to chase after the early work done by the spin duo of Ekta Bisht and Deepti Sharma. Along with Poonam Yadav, the legspinner, the trio bowled with loop and turn to stifle the Australia batters early on.

It began with Bisht snaring the in-form Nicole Bolton, the opener who came into this game with scores of 100 and 84 chipping a slower delivery back to the bowler for 11. Deepti forced Meg Lanning – who threatened initially, striking four boundaries – to step out and drive straight to Mithali Raj at cover.

India, and Deepti, would have had another success had Sushma Verma held on to a thick inside edge off Ellyse Perry when only three. She went on to play a steady hand in a 79-run third-wicket stand with Healy, but never quite got going in her 60-ball 32.

Healy looked uncomfortable at the outset, but resisted the temptation to hit out. She finally found her groove in a Shikha Pandey over, hitting two fours and a six. It helped that she earned lives on 21 and 56 – both times on the boundary when she was put down by Mona Meshram. Healy capitalised on the reprieves, hitting all over the ground, targeting the pacers in particular. She crossed her previous best ODI score of 71, before reaching triple figures from 94 deliveries.

Healy picked up the pace after crossing the milestone, amassing 18 runs in an over from Pandey. After Perry fell to Pandey, Rachael Haynes and Healy swiftly added 96 runs in 12 overs to steer Australia further ahead. Healy finally perished in the 41st over while slogging a Yadav delivery that found Veda Krishnamurthy, the substitute fielder who was dropped after scores of 16 and 2 in this series.

Haynes was run out for 43 in the following over, but Australia’s batting depth came through. Ashleigh Gardner and Beth Mooney continued the assault to ensure the total was beyond India’s reach. While Garnder made a 20-ball 35 with six fours, Mooney’s 19-ball 34 comprised five boundaries as Australia reached their third-highest total in ODIs.

Having already conceded the series and their highest total in an ODI, India had little to lose. Rodrigues and Mandhana, the openers, made most of the situation by attacking from the start. Playing only her second ODI, Rodrigues looked particularly fluent throughout her innings. Mandhana wasn’t too far behind as the duo raced to 101 off 13.4 overs to keep India on track for a record chase.

But Gardner (3 for 39) snapped both the well-set openers in the 14th over to apply the brakes on India’s innings. Rodrigues was caught by Haynes at mid-on for 42, while Mandhana was trapped in front off the next ball.

Raj, the India captain, and Harmanpreet Kaur, her deputy, kept the scoreboard ticking over, but Nicola Carey found the edge off Kaur that was expertly caught behind the stumps by Healy, standing up. With the asking rate mounting, India needed the experienced Raj to stick around and forge crucial partnership with the middle order. But Raj soon fell to a brilliant low catch from Haynes, and Meshram was the next to depart, holing out to midwicket for one.

India were struggling at 182 for 6 in 30 overs, the scoring rate had dipped alarmingly and it was only a matter of time before Australia’s bowlers mopped up the tail. Verma briefly resisted with a 35-ball 30, but three wickets in two overs, including two in two from Perry, brought a swift end to India’s chase.

Despite the sweep, Australia remain second on the ICC Women’s Championship table with 10 points from six games, the same as New Zealand who have a superior net run-rate. With just four points from six matches, India currently occupy the fourth position.