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Having been beaten in the opener comprehensively by eight wickets on Monday, and with the return of a fit-again Mithali Raj to lead the side, India looked confident to settle a score against their Australian counterparts, in a must-win encounter in a three-match series at Vadodara on Thursday which is a part of the ICC Women’s Championship.

 

But a dominant performance by the visitors ensured that Australia thumped The ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 runners-up by 60 runs in the second ODI at Vadodara on Thursday.

 

Riding on Nicole Bolton’s back-to-back Player of the Match effort (84) and right-arm fast-medium bowler, Megan Schutt’s economic opening burst, the Southern Stars took the series 2-0 with a match in hand.

 

While skipper Mithali Raj and Ekta Bisht replaced Jemimah Rodrigues and Rajeshwari Gayakwad for India, Australia reposed faith with the same XI.

 

Put into bat, Australia got off to a solid start once again with the left hand – right-hand opening pair of Nicole Bolton and Alyssa Healy putting on 54 runs. Healy (19) succumbed to the pressure of dot balls holing out to Krishnamurthy off the bowling of leggie Poonam Yadav in the 13th over.  Few overs earlier, with the introduction of Deepti Sharma in the seventh over, two opportunities were created.  Bolton before having reached 20 was fortuitous on both the occasions with her shots evading the fielder. It was to be Bolton’s day as in the 15th over off Poonam Yadav, Bolton’s mistimed slog had Vastrakar at mid-wicket not time her jump well to latch on the chance. By the half-way mark, Australia were in cruise control with Bolton priming herself well for another big score on 77 with captain Meg Lanning on 23. Shikha Pandey shouldering the attack in Jhulan Goswami’s absence broke the threatening 76-run partnership soon after with Lanning (24) looking to cut loose.  Bolton was next to depart on 84 (88b, 12×4) playing across the line to slow left-arm orthodox Bisht to reduce the visitors to 143/3 in the 30th over. In the following over, the golden arm of Harmanpreet Kaur scalped senior pro-Rachael Haynes for nought and India was back in the contest with the visitors in a spot of bother at 144/4. But the middle-order batswomen at the crease, all-rounder Ellyse Perry and Beth Mooney shored up with a challenge to stave off the India fight-back.  Perry made an unbeaten run-a-ball 70 laced with six boundaries and two maximums while Mooney’s swashbuckling 40-ball 56 included nine hits to the ropes. The fifth-wicket stand which yielded 96 runs ensured Australia end on a healthy 287/9.

 

For India, Shikha Pandey had the best returns with 3 for 61 with Poonam Yadav chipping in with two wickets.

 

In reply, India got off to a sluggish start. While the diminutive Punam Raut struggled to get the ball out off the square, Smriti Mandhana looked in fine fettle. Raut offered a difficult chance to Gardner when on 1 trying to break the shackles. By the seventh over, India had only 22 runs on board with Schutt conceding just a run of her first three overs, a run that could have been Raut’s wicket.

 

India gradually improved their scoring rate as Mandhana continued her good form striking boundaries virtually every over to keep the required rate in check. The home team reached 50 at the start of the 12th over with Mandhana batting on 44 with Raut staying put on 6. Raut began to come to the grips of the surface striking two boundaries in the 16th over off slow bowler, Jonassen to take India to 80 and scoring five to the over.

 

With the India innings beginning to gain some momentum, Mandhana played a bad rank shot in an endeavour to get a successive boundary to fall to Jonassen for 67 (53b, 12×4, 1×6) in the 18th over. With Deepti Sharma coming in surprisingly at one-down and consolidation the need of the hour, Raut’s laborious knock ended on a 61-ball 27 and India at 99/2. Batting mainstays, Mithali Raj (15) and Harmanpreet Kaur (17) did not last long either to peg India farther back on 155/4 after 32 overs. From there on, it was a herculean task for the home side with the asking rate having climbed at well over seven runs an over. While Sharma made 26, Pooja Vastrakar once again used the long handle well to make 30 (33b, 2×4, 2×6) to help India muster 227 in a losing cause.

 

In the Australia attack, slow left-arm orthodox bowler, Jess Jonassen earned the dividends with 3 for 51, and leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington and right-arm fast-medium bowler, Elysse Perry complementing her well with two sticks apiece. But it was Megan Schutt’s pacy line, length and control that contributed silently to the outcome with a niggardly 1 for 24 off her quota.

 

The sides play at the same venue in the third and final dead rubber on March 18.

 

The scores:

Australia: 287/9 (N Bolton 84, S Pandey 3/61) beat India 227/10 (S Mandhana 67, J Jonassen 3/51) by 60 runs.