Trading in her glasses has helped opening batter Nicole Bolton star for Australia and lead the womens cricket side to a convincing victory over India in the first ODI.
Bolton was sporting contact lenses instead of her trademark specs as she smashed her fourth ODI century in an emphatic eight-wicket triumph in Vadodara.
“I think the lesson Ive learned in the subcontinent is Ive had fog issues with my glasses, so Ive gone away from that and Ive got the little towel out there to make sure I actually see the ball,” Bolton said.
The match continued a perfect start for Australia on their tour of India after carrying on their hot form from two practice matches.
While Bolton said her unbeaten 100 was special, not everything went to plan for her.
The 29-year-old was involved in a run-out that cost returning captain Meg Lanning her wicket.
Lanning – who was playing in her first ODI since last Julys World Cup semi-final loss against India – had a mix-up with Bolton and was out for 33.
Lanning strolls into the record books
However, the star No.3 created a piece of history during her comeback innings, becoming the second-fasted woman to reach 3000 ODI runs.
“I was disappointed because Meg has missed a lot of cricket and was hitting the ball really well,” Bolton said.
Bol-Ton powers Aussies to big win
“Any time you run out the skipper is never good so Ill probably have to wheel her bag out or pack her kit to get back in her good books.”
Australia has an opportunity to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series with the next match taking place at Vadodara on March 15.
India ODI squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma
The ODI series will be followed by a T20 tri-series also involving England, which gets underway in Mumbai on March 22.
England T20I squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Katie George, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Anya Shrubsole, Bryony Smith, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danni Wyatt
When WACA born and bred Nicole Bolton played out a maiden upfront off Shikha Pandey, in Vadodara, India must have been lulled into a false sense of security. Even after six overs in Australias chase, as Alyssa Healy went about slaying the bowlers at the other end, Bolton had only crawled to nine off the 17 deliveries shed faced till then, still looking to settle in after having just edged Deepti Sharmas first ball of the game to the left of first slip. But this was the 42-match veterans maiden tour of India in her four-year ODI career thus far, and the formerly-bespectacled Australian opener was determined to erase the haunting memories of her previous flop show against them that came in the infamous semifinal loss at the World Cup last year.
And as she indeed eased off that burden in the three-match series opener on Monday (March 12), it was a sight to behold. Quite spectacularly, Bolton beat India at their own game. As many as 74 per cent of her ton of runs in Australias 201-run chase came off Indias spin quartet, while their own slower bowlers had spun a web around the Indians in the morning. Predominantly a back-foot player, Bolton was particularly impressive in employing the sweep shot to good effect to loot runs off Indias spinners.
Her body of work under the beating sun in Vadodara was evidence enough of the hard yards shes put in to be able to seamlessly adapt to the typically slower-than-most wickets of the subcontinent. The 29-year-old expanded her repertoire of shots over time and perfected the art during Australias tour of Sri Lanka in 2016, where also she had recorded a hundred – her second since the debut.
India would have been bowled out for far less if it was not for the 76-run partnership between Sushma Verma (41) and Pooja Vastrakar (51) for the eighth wicket, helping them muster 200 in 50 overs.
Boltons fourth ODI century, in her first-ever international appearance in India, put her in the elite company of her captain Meg Lanning, New Zealands captain Suzie Bates and England great Charlotte Edwards as the women who have recorded the feat of a three-figure score on these shores.
“I think this is pretty special, its definitely right up there,” Bolton told the media after Australia secured a 1-0 lead in the series. “India are such a quality side and my last innings against them was in that semifinal and I was really disappointed with my contribution in that game so I was determined to go out and play positively. I know Indias got a great attack so to finish not out at end and get the girls over the line is something Ill look back on.
“Ive had to do a lot of work over the season on my front-foot play, especially against spin – making sure Im really committing to coming down the wicket,” Bolton revealed. “I think with slow, turning wickets like the one out there can play into my favour because Im able to get really deep in the crease and get off the back foot. It is the sort of wicket [where] if you commit to your strengths then runs will really flow and youll able to get into your innings.
“(The sweep) is something I did in Sri Lanka and it was quite successful so it was something I wanted to continue to do over here,” she said. “It gives you another option as well with the spinners coming into you and if Im sweeping, the bowler has to adjust their length and that plays into my strength, which is pulling.”
India would have disintegrated for much less than 200 if not for a dash of brilliance from Pooja Vastrakar, who was playing just her second ODI, and a reassuring 41 from the bat of wicketkeeper Sushma Verma. In reply, Australia were cruising at 60 without loss after the nine overs of powerplay, and the thoughts of a century would perhaps had seemed a distant possibility to Bolton. But she lauded the efforts of her opening partner Alyssa Healy for sniffing the life out of Indias six-player bowling attack with her punishing cameo upfront.
“That partnership at the end was crucial for India for them to grab a little bit of momentum and to take it to their bowling innings. But I thought Alyssa Healy, with that innings, just sniffed out that momentum and put it back in our favour and we just carried on from there.” Bolton said, heaping praise on their wicketkeepers valuable contribution to the chase.
Healy looked in ominous tough as she struck a rapid 38, at a strike rate of 131, laced with half a dozen boundaries and six off Pandey. “Thats just how Heals goes about her business,” Bolton remarked. “She makes it look so easy sometimes, but thats her job at the top of the order. She can play 360. I know shell be kicking herself to get out when she did but she really set the tone there and thats what we want to see from her.”
Bolton did rue the unfortunate run out of her skipper Lanning, who shone brightly in her brief hit-out on international comeback after a seven-months lay-off due to a right-shoulder reconstruction surgery. The Australian captains wicket was an inconsequential but lucky break India got when Veda Krishnamurthy hit the bulls eye at the non-strikers end as Lanning tried to make her way back in safely after having strayed halfway down the track but refused the single by Bolton.
“I was really disappointed, Megs obviously missed a lot of cricket and she was hitting the ball really well,” Bolton said. “Im probably going to have to wheel her bag out tonight or pack her kit or do something to get back in her good books,” she joked.