Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australia 1 for 227 (Haynes 93*, Healy 77, Lanning 53*) beat India 8 for 225 (Raj 63, Bhatia 35, Brown 4-33, Darlington 2-29) by nine wickets
Four wickets to teenager speedster Darcie Brown and half-centuries from veterans Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, and Meg Lanning helped Australia put India to the sword in the opening ODI at Ray Mitchell Oval in Mackay and claim a two-point lead in the multi-format series.
Brown, 18, became the youngest Australian to claim four wickets in an ODI taking 4 for 33 to help restrict India to 8 for 225 before the home side made light work of India's sub-par target with Haynes and Healy producing an electric and effortless 126-run opening stand. Haynes and Lanning then matched it with an unbeaten century stand of their own to set up a nine-wicket win with nine overs to spare.
Australia extended their world-record ODI winning streak to 25 matches and celebrated Lanning's 200th international appearance in style. India had no answer for Australia's top three. Haynes and Healy both passed 2000 ODI runs on their way to yin-and-yang half-centuries.
Healy's run-a-ball 77 featured some dazzling and brutal strokeplay. She was troubled by some new-ball swing from debutant Meghna Singh but was savage when the trio of India seamers began to drop short. She then advanced to the spinners and lofted over the off side with ease. She brought up the 2000-run milestone with a glorious strike over mid-off in 22nd over but left a century on the table when she holed out to mid-off from the very next ball from Poonam Yadav.
Haynes was unassuming but no less effective cruising to 93 not out. She played the minor role in the opening stand having only reached 46 when her partner departed. But where Healy had advanced at the spinners, Haynes hung deep in the crease to accumulate with ease before expanding late in the chase. A century only eluded her because she ran out of runs to chase as Lanning made one of the easiest half-centuries of her glittering career.
India's attack lacked penetration after they opted to go without a left-arm spinner in their XI. Meghna looked the most dangerous of the seamers on debut after Shikha Pandey was left out.
The teenage pace-bowling duo of Brown and 19-year-old Hannah Darlington did the damage for Australia who were without Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen for just the second time since 2012. Darlington became the third Indigenous woman to play ODI cricket for Australia after being handed her cap by fellow Indigenous player Ashleigh Gardner before play and picked up 2 for 29 from her eight overs.
The visitors' innings was held together by Mithali Raj. Her 63 from 107 balls was her fifth consecutive ODI half-century, just two shy of her own world record of seven in a row. Debutants Yastika Bhatia and Richa Ghosh, who were both born after Raj made her ODI debut, were the only other players to pass 30. Ghosh played a superb cameo at No. 7 making 32 not out off just 29 balls.
Australia captain Lanning had no hesitation in bowling first after winning the toss on a Mackay surface made of the same clay used at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Brown, playing just her second ODI, tore through India's top order with her extra pace and bounce. The South Australian regularly nudged 120kph to make life very uncomfortable for India's batters. Opener Shafali Verma succumbed to the short ball again, just as she did in England several times, gloving one down the leg side having previously survived a top-edged pull shot. Smriti Mandhana sliced Brown's extra pace to backward point where she was well caught by Haynes.
Brown's withdrawal from the attack after five overs from her allowed Raj and Bhatia to build an important partnership. Raj took 12 balls to get off the mark and was hit on the helmet by a well-directed Perry bouncer on 11. By comparison, Bhatia, the 21-year-old, looked at home in her first international innings, having replaced the injured Harmanpreet Kaur in the XI. The tall, elegant left-hander, with a technique in the mould of Mandhana, played exquisitely for her 35 in a partnership of 77 with the captain.
Brown, however, struck immediately on return into the attack with Bhatia slicing a catch to backward point in a carbon copy of Mandhana's dismissal. Brown then made light work of Deepti Sharma. She was dropped at slip by Lanning before another sharp short ball forced a top-edge to square leg.
Raj quietly reached her 59th ODI fifty and 20,000 career runs but she was unable to finish the innings as she was neatly stumped by Healy attempting a wild swipe off Sophie Molineux.
Darlington's unerring accuracy was rewarded late in the innings. But after breaching the defence of Sneh Rana, she wasn't used in the final five overs despite her experience bowling at the death in the WBBL. Brown also had one over available.
Instead, Tahlia McGrath was hammered by Ghosh and Jhulan Goswami for two monstrous sixes in the 49th over. Ghosh proved why she was preferred over Taniya Bhatia for the wicketkeeper-batter slot with some inventive and powerful ball-striking, adding 45 with Goswami off 40 balls to give India something to bowl at.
IND Women vs AUS Women
India Women in Australia