Australia women 202 for 2 (Bolton 100*, Healy 38) beat India women 200 all out (Vastrakar 51, Verma 41, Jonassen 4-30, Wellington 3-24) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia's eight-wicket victory, with over 17 overs to spare, bore every mark of the intent they spoke about leading into the three-match series against India. Their spinners - Jess Jonassen and Amanda-Jade Welliington - led the charge to pick up seven wickets between them to dismantle India for 200. Debutant Nicola Carey, too, played a part in an economical 10-over spell that cost just 28. Then opener Nicole Bolton made an unbeaten century, her fourth in ODIs, to undo India's lower-order fightback.
Australia's chase had an air of inevitability about it right from the start. After seeing off a maiden over first up from Shikha Pandey, Bolton leaned into cover drives, rocked back for square cuts, and swept her way to forging three half-century stands. Even as she took a while to assess the Reliance Stadium surface, where pace had been on the wane since the latter half of India's innings, Bolton kept pinching singles through the seven-two off-side heavy field, while opening partner Alyssa Healy went on a rampage to make a 29-ball 38.
In a manner similar to her WBBL blitzkriegs this season, Healy hammered the barrage of short balls from the opening pace duo of Pandey and Pooja Vastrakar, and also took on spinners Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Having hoisted Australia to 60 without loss in nine overs, Healy picked out Veda Krishnamurthy at point to hand Pandey her 50th ODI wicket.
By then, Bolton had upped her strike rate and raced to 21 off 26, shaking off the scratchiness that had made her edge the first ball of the sixth over off Deepti marginally past Veda at first slip. Subsequently, she forged a 68-run stand with captain Meg Lanning, who brought up her 3000th ODI run upon her return to the batting crease since losing her offstump to that Jhulan Goswami peach from the World Cup semi-final.
Lanning's fluency shone through right from the outset. Bolton, on her part, raced to her fifty off only 57 balls, but three deliveries later, had Lanning respond to her call and come a long way down the pitch only to send her captain back after tapping at a Pandey delivery. With Australia on 128 for 1, Lanning, on 33, met with a direct throw from Veda at cover-point and was caught short of her ground at the non-striker's end.
The dismissal, however, was to barely have a bearing on the outcome of the game. But Bolton enjoyed slices of luck. Reprieved on 65 when Rajeshwar Gayakwad put down a skier off Poonam Yadav at square leg, strung an unbeaten 74-run partnership with Ellyse Perry. In between, she also avoided dragging the legspinner on 72. Perry chipped in with a 26-ball 25, and hit the winning runs - a four of stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur - in the 33rd over, soon after Bolton got to her century off 101 balls.
As dominant as Australia were with the bat, it was their bowlers that snotted the life out the Indian line-up. Mithali Raj's unavailability because of fever meant 17-year old Jemimah Rodrigues was handed an ODI debut, which turned out to be forgettable for her. Among the top six, only Punam Rut managed to make some sort of impression to make 37.
With the top order failing, the lower order stood up. Bowling allrounder Vastrakar partnered No. 7 wicketkeeper-batsman Sushma Verma to breathe animation into an tail that has time and again failed to wag under pressure. They added 76 for the eighth wicket, with Vastrakar bringing up her maiden half-century off the 55th ball of her innings.
Batting only for the third time in international cricket, Vastrakar's 56-ball 51 featured seven fours and a six that lent credence to her established pinch-hitting prowess in the domestic circuit. Having come in at No. 9, she capitalised on the two reprieves - dropped on 14 by Lanning at mid-off and on 19 by Perry at midwicket - and lofted left-arm spinner Jonassen over the covers, drove Schutt and Perry straight down the track, and launched Gardner for six over the mid-wicket fence with a slog sweep.
That India could scramble to 200 after being reduced to 113 for 7 was down to Vastrakar's freewheeling approach, coupled with Verma's defiant 71-ball 41, that bettered her international top-score of 33 that came in a similar situation in the World Cup last year, against Pakistan. The pair's 93-ball stand injected further sloppiness in the Australia fielding unit.
Jonassen, who finished with 4 for 30, however, cleaned up the tail, running the last wicket - Poonam Yadav - out after having both Sushma and Vastrakar to hole out - the latter to Haynes as she failed to time an attempted lofted strike straight over the bowler's head.