Australia women take clean sweep

Shelley Nitschke

Shelley Nitschke was out six short of a well-deserved century © Getty Images

Australia sent an ominous warning to their World Cup rivals with a fifth straight one-day international victory over India at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

The comprehensive seven-wicket margin delivered a 5-0 series result for the home team in their last match against the world’s second-ranked team before next year’s ICC women’s world cup in Australia.

Chasing India’s 177 for nine, Alex Blackwell (65) and Shelley Nitschke (94) blasted an opening partnership of 140 for the first wicket, a record for Australia against India, as the victory target was reached with 21 overs to spare.

Without injured captain Jhulan Goswami, the India attack could not contain the Australia openers.

Nitschke was in punishing form, smashing 15 fours and a six in a career-best 94 off 56 balls.

Returning to the team after missing the first four matches of the series due to a thigh injury, Nitschke recorded her highest one-day international score before being caught with her first century in sight.

“It was nice to get out there and do well today," she said. "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.

"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.

“Alex is really good to bat with. We haven’t opened a lot together but we’re getting to know each other a bit more out in the middle and it’s starting to work well.

“I wasn’t going to shut up shop and wanted to keep doing what had worked already, but I just played a lazy shot.”

After scoring her 1,000th run in one-day internationals yesterday, Blackwell continued her consistent form and rise up the list of all-time run scorers to move into fifth place for Australia.

Her seventh international half-century and second for the series, complementing her unbeaten hundred yesterday, gave her the player of the series award.

Nitschke’s return to the team wasn’t just limited to her batting. Earlier, she claimed 2-16 from 10 overs to lead the Australia attack.

Priyanka Roy led the India batters with 40 from 85 balls while Amita Sharma (23 from 22) added value down the order.