Sublime Rolton guides Australia to fifth World Cup
Karen Rolton's rampant 107 not out helped Australia to their fifth World Cup success as they beat India by 98 runs in a heavily one-sided final at Centurion. Rolton appeared with her team in trouble at 31 for 2, but took the game away from India and eventually guided Australia to 215, adding 139 with Lisa Sthalekar for the fourth wicket. India's reply never got going and they crumbled to 117 all out amid a clatter of run-outs. But the day belonged to Rolton.
It wasn't the most stylish of innings - club rather than class - and nor did Rolton get off to the most convincing of starts, but she exuded authority once settled and her knock was exactly what Australia needed after a brief wobble. India, who had reached the final for the first time, showed no first-night nerves early on - Amita Sharma removed the threatening Belinda Clark and Jhulan Goswami got rid of Lisa Keightley - but this was the only time they were in the contest. Once Rolton had wrested the initiative, Australia never looked back.
Experience told as Rolton cut and pulled her way to her sixth one-day hundred while India's bowlers ran out of ideas, but never patience, in a good-spirited match played out in front of a lamentably small crowd.
Before her stand with Sthalekar, Rolton received good support from Mel Jones. Their third-wicket partnership was worth 40, but in terms of the match it was gold. And Jones was running well between the wickets before she was eventually undone by the reliable Neetu David. With that wicket, David broke a world record: she has now taken a wicket in 27 consecutive one-day internationals. But it was more wickets, not records, that India were hoping for. They managed to take just one more, dismissing Sthalekar late on.
Sthalekar proved a worthy comrade, handing the strike to Rolton where possible and adding some classy shots of her own, nudging her way to a quiet but inestimable 55. By the time she fell in the dying moments of the innings she had more than done her job. "We were only looking at 180," admitted Rolton. "We were just trying to work their spinners, work the singles, put the pressure on their fielders." In the end, 180 would have done just as well, as India fell way short of their target.
Faced with a tough ask. India needed to start well, and at 54 for 2 in the 20th over they were in the hunt. But then the wheels came off, and some, in a clatter of four run-outs and a questionable lbw decision against Mithali Raj which ended the contest. Australia's fielding was tight but none of the Indian middle-order seemed to take any heed from what had gone before as five wickets fell for 25 in nine overs. Game over.
Sharma (22) and Goswami (18) showed some attacking intent and guided India past three figures but the match had long since ceased to be a contest. The end came when Shelley Nitschke bowled Nooshin Al Khadeer for a duck with the last ball of the 47th over.
Nitschke was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 14 from nine overs, and the fiery Cathryn Fitzpatrick did her usual strangling job with 2 for 23 from eight.
Worthy winners, Australia played hard throughout the tournament and have set the marker for the other international teams. India can feel proud of their performance to reach the final for the first time, but the result was never in doubt.
Belinda Clark c Jain b A Sharma 19 (24 for 1)
Keeper stayed low to hold thick edge
Lisa Keightley c Dhar b Goswami 5 (31 for 2)
Flashed edge straight to second slip
Mel Jones lbw b David 17 (71 for 3)
Swept across the line and was trapped plumb
Lisa Sthalekar c & b Dhar 55 (210 for 4)
Holed out to difficult return catch, taken low
Jaya Sharma run out (Sthalekar/Price) 5 (14 for 1)
Stranded after push to mid-on - non-striker Jain stayed in crease
Anju Jain c Sthalekar b Smith 29 (39 for 2)
Chipped easy catch to mid-wicket
Anjum Chopra run out (Hayes) 10 (54 for 3)
Smacked to the on-side and falls just short after despairing lunge
Mithali Raj lbw b Nitschke 6 (59 for 4)
Played across the line, beaten and rapped on the pad
Rumeli Dhar run out 6 (63 for 5)
Out by a yard after stumps thrown down from mid-on
Hemlata Kala run out 3 (64 for 6)
Nurdled to mid-wicket and out by a whisker
Amita Sharma lbw b Sthalekar 22 (93 for 7)
Umpire deliberated after loud appeal for ball which went around legs
Jhulan Goswami c sub (K Blackwell) b Fitzpatrick 18 (115 for 8)
Cut straight to backward point for an easy catch
Neetu David b Fitzpatrick 0 (116 for 9)
Ball angled in and beat the bat, nipping off stump
Nooshin Al Khadeer b Nistchke 0 (117 for 10)
Played the wrong line and stumps clattered