Having a hard day at office, India handed Australia an easy 8-wicket win with the tourists doing pretty much everything well- batting (Bolton’s ton) and bowling (Spin-twin magic) which their fierce opponents didn’t. Whether it were the batting failures of Mandhana (12) and Kaur (9) or the last minute exit of the experienced pro-Mithali Raj from the playing eleven- that brought about curtains to India’s chances in the first ODI, it’s anyone’s call.
Strangely though, a game that brought about important milestones for players on either side- Shikha Pandey notching up her 50th ODI wicket and Meg Lanning reaching 3000 ODI runs– didn’t replicate the excitement of individual achievements where team totals were concerned. The game wasn’t about the plundering of runs. Nor was it about compelling partnerships that were able to lend some excitement to the first inning.
Surprisingly, the slow, somewhat unresponsive Vadodara wicket proved a nadir for batswomen, particularly from India as the only handy strikers in the game proved to be spinners- that too all Australian- Jess Jonassen, bringing up her maiden four-for against India and, Amanda Jade-Wellington, picking up an important three-for as the top and middle orders were wiped off from useful runs.
You know it’s been a day of grind for batswomen when a side fails to score of 4 complete overs, with Schutt, debutant Carey and, Jonassen emerging with 1, 2 and 1 maiden(s) respectively.
While Australia went about completing an easy run-chase, in a contest that was slightly sleep inducing primarily due to a hapless Indian batting display, the only thing that upped the ante of the game was viewing Nicole Bolton registering her fourth ODI ton, arguably also one of her easiest.
With no Jhulan Goswami attacking from the word go, it ought to be said, Australia were cushioned by noted absences from the first ODI, including that of Raj.
Bolton, in constructing a masterly run chase was fluent from the ball go and offered a full range of her strokes as she timed the ball extremely well, square of the wicket, just as she swept India’s spinners- Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav– both of whom went wicket-less.
India won’t be too chuffed as at the end of the day they sit around discussing setting Australia a 201 to chase, a kind of score you pretty much expect the famous troika of Bolton, Perry, and Lanning to achieve with great ease.
So even as Australia did lose two wickets- captain Lanning (33) and Healy (38), both getting off great starts but failing to capitalize, it wasn’t ever going to be tough with the experienced Perry sticking around to complement the exuberance of Nicole Bolton.
But that told, India ought to take a few positives, most notably that from the useful eight-wicket partnership of 76 between wicket-keeping batswoman Sushma Verma and Pooja Vastrakar, the latter notching up a valuable 51, an inning marked with immense concentration. Showing a clear intent of accumulating runs, Vastrakar, a quick runner between the wickets didn’t shy away from stepping down on spinners and lifting them over the cover boundary.
As the next game commences, it’s a clear action plan that stares India in the eye. Have a handy start, safeguard wickets and, leave the lower order sans the added pressure of scoring for the short-comings of the top order bats.