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Healy's maiden hundred sets up Australia's clean sweep over India

Cricket news - Healy's maiden hundred sets up Australia's clean sweep over India

Alyssa Healy's maiden ODI hundred set up Australia's thumping 97-run victory to sweep the three-match ODI series against India in Vadodara on Sunday (March 18). Set a daunting target of 333 for a consolation win, and two remaining IWC points in the series, lack of partnerships did India in again as the home team folded for 235 in reply, inside 45 overs.

Healy held the Australian effort together by stitching two solid partnerships - 79 with Ellyse Perry (32) and 96 with Rachael Haynes (43) - en route her record-breaking personal best of 133. The cameos further down the order propped up Australia, who elected to bat despite a slightly overcast morning.

Australia had to settle for a sedate start though, with Deepti Sharma extracting turn as early as in the second over. Ekta Bisht too was introduced fairly early and she kept things tight with her wicket-to-wicket bowling that cramped Australians for space.

Healy had to overcome an iffy start. The release point came in the eight over as she looted 14 off Shikha Pandey's 19-run over. Having failed twice previously to convert her starts, the Australian wicketkeeper notched up her fifth ODI half-century, and her third since returning to the opening slot post 2017 World Cup, and went on to overtake Meg Lanning's 123 as the highest individual effort against India. On the way, she was helped by a couple of drops - both in the deep by Mona Meshram in the arc between midwicket and square leg - when she was on 23 and 56 respectively. But she cashed in well to set Australia up for the clean sweep. At her brutal best, Healy even showed some creativity by ruining an otherwise good over from Poonam Yadav with a reverse slap to third man.

The full-length diving efforts of Bisht and Mithali Raj to send the in-form Nicole Bolton (11) and the dangerous Lanning (18) packing were offset by a number of missed chances in the deep as well as behind the stumps. When Sushma Verma did get her act together, her diving effort saw Perry perish chasing a short and wide delivery off Pandey.

While Haynes quietly settled in, Healy pressed on the accelerator. After reaching her century off 94, she plundered 18 off the Pandey over in batting powerplay, three boundaries on the trot included. Australia crossed 200 in the 38th over and 235 by the end of 40th in which Bisht walked off with bleeding fingers. Substituting her, Veda Krishnamurthy made it a productive stint as she aided in the dismissals of both the set batters. She caught Healy on 133 at long-on when the opener charged at a Poonam delivery and in the succeeding over ran Haynes out from point when the Australian vice-captain strayed too far down the pitch for the non-existent single.

The dropping syndrome continued, however, with Ashleigh Gardener getting two back-to-back lives on 15 off Harmanpreet Kaur, and she made the most of it by striking an invaluable 20-ball 35 before falling to the same bowler. Beth Mooney milked the opportunity in Bisht's absence that forced India to rely on the part-time off-breaks of Meshram. A 20-run penultimate over - 16 off them coming in boundaries - helped Mooney finish with an unbeaten 34 and Australia reset their highest total against India to 332.

India's reply, much like the previous game, saw openers laying the platform but none in the middle order capitalising on it to finish off the game. Amongst the few moments that India won in the game, Smriti Mandhana (52) and Jemimah Rodrigues (42) together turned up the heat on Australia's bowling attack in their 101 stand that came at close to 7.5 an over, following which India's partnerships were too brief to fancy chasing down the mammoth target.

Rodrigues got India going with back-to-back fours and Mandhana wasted no time in catching up, going inside-over over cover and punishing a leg-stump line for boundaries to get her confidence back after Meg Lanning dropped her on 5. Everytime Perry was full, Mandhana tonked her straight down the ground for fours. It wasn't a chanceless innings as she nearly chopped back on on two occasions, but it put Australia under the pump in the powerplay overs, yielding 68. Mandhana overtook her opening partner in no time, racing to her ninth ODI half-century off just 41 deliveries with her trademark swivel and pull.

The eventful 14th over flipped the momentum back in Australia's favour. Playing catch up, Rodrigues raised India's first century opening stand of the series with consecutive fours on the either side of the 'keeper. But Gardener cut India's celebrations shot as she had the right-hander caught by a diving Haynes and the left-hander trapped low but plumb in front.

A brisk 46-run stand between Raj (21) and her deputy Harmanpreet (25) briefly kept the team in the hunt but once the senior pair fell, India's chances started to diminish steadily. Meshram did little to justify her selection ahead of Veda, or to utilise the opportunity she got. So telling was the pressure that India went for a dry spell of 10.3 overs without a boundary, between 28th and 37th, before Verma (30) smacked the only six of the chase. A few lusty blows later, further establishing her batting credentials, the Indian keeper had her fireworks cut short by a diving Lanning. With Bisht not slated to bat, Perry's back to back wickets of Deepti (36) and Pandey effectively brought curtains on this forgetful 50-overs leg of the Indian home summer.

Brief scores: Australia 332/7 in 50 overs (Alyssa Healy 133; Harmanpreet Kaur 2-51) beat India 235/9 in 44.4 overs (Smriti Mandhana 52, Jemimah Rodrigues 42; Ashleigh Gardender 3-40, Ellyse Perry 2-40) by 97 runs.

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