Shelley Nitschke's breezy 94 ensured a clean sweep for Australia in the five-match ODI series against India after the bowlers had restricted the Indians to 177 for 9. Nitschke, Emma Sampson and Delissa Kimmince took two wickets each to set up a seven-wicket win at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.
Indian openers Sulakshana Naik and Anagha Deshpande justified stand-in captain Rumeli Dhar's decision to bat first by putting on a 54-run opening stand. However, once Naik fell, castled by Nitschke, a mini-collapse followed and India slipped to 70 for 4. It was thanks to Priyanka Roy and Amita Sharma's 40-run seventh-wicket partnership that India went past 150.
The Australian reply never looked like faltering. Alex Blackwell, fresh from a century in Saturday's match, was cautious, while Nitschke launched into an Indian attack weakened by the absence of their fastest bowler, Jhulan Goswami. Nitschke slammed 15 fours and a six on her way to her highest ODI score, off 56 balls. She was eventually caught by Dhar off Mithali Raj, who also struck with her next ball, trapping Lisa Sthalekar leg-before. However, Australia had little trouble in completing the rout with 21 overs to spare.
Nitschke, who missed the first four matches due to a thigh injury, was pleased with her efforts in her comeback game. "It's never good being injured and it felt like a long time since I'd played, so today I just wanted to get to the crease and have a bit of a look at the bowlers," she said. "We got a message early on that we wanted to try and get the runs quickly and by that time I was pretty set, the ball was getting older and things started to roll my way.".
Things haven't gone India's way since winning the Asia Cup earlier this year. They have lost all nine of their completed matches since then and have no more games scheduled before next year's World Cup in March.
Australia travel to New Zealand next for five ODIs and a Twenty20 to round off their pre-World Cup campaign.