A classy century by opener Nicole Bolton has led Australia to another comprehensive one-day international win over Sri Lanka to secure a four-nil series sweep at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.
The left-hander came within four balls of carrying her bat through the innings as she was dismissed in the final over for 113 from 146 deliveries – the second ODI hundred of her 22-match career and first since the 124 she posted on debut against England in January 2014.
Bolton found high-quality support from captain Meg Lanning (43 off 44 balls) and then allrounder Ellyse Perry with a run a ball 77 in a 140-run stand for the third wicket.
Perry collected her eighth boundary off the final ball of the innings to leave the field unbeaten alongside vice-captain Alex Blackwell (3no) as the Stars compiled an imposing total of 3-268 from their 50 overs.
The leg-spin of Kristen Beams once again did the bulk of the damage with the ball for the Southern Stars, claiming 4-26 to help seal the 137-run victory.
Beams’ return of 13 wickets at an average of 5.92 while conceding just 2.09 runs an over is made even more remarkable when you consider the fact she had 12 scalps to her name from her previous 14 ODI appearances in green and gold.
An off-season of hard work and a small technical change have worked wonders according to bowling coach Joe Dawes, but the leggie is clearly full of confidence and making the most of the spin-friendly surfaces at her disposal on the island nation.
Lanning had earlier won her third consecutive toss of the series and this time elected to bat on a warm day in the nation’s capital.
Western Australia duo Elyse Villani and Bolton quickly set about continuing the strong partnership they have formed at the top of the order in recent matches.
After career-best performances in back-to-back matches, Villani appeared on her way to maintaining the trend with a pair of early boundaries.
The right-hander launched a powerful straight six back over Chamari Atapattu’s head, but Sri Lanka’s skipper got her revenge next ball when Villani was trapped in front for 22.
Captain Lanning was in a dominant mood from the outset, driving with ease through the off-side and muscling deliveries into the gaps on the leg-side.
A deft late cut, followed by an emphatic slash through point was enough to suggest this could be the skipper’s big day out.
Bolton also kept the partnership moving along with some classy strokeplay of her own to bring up her second half century of the series from 78 deliveries.
Lanning survived a rigorous appeal for lbw from her counterpart Atapattu, but had no luck next ball when she was sent on her way, trapped in front for 43.
Disciplined bowling and clever field placements made boundaries hard to find for Bolton and Perry, but the duo stayed patient and accumulated runs through terrific running between the wickets.
Bolton was handed a life on 68 when Atapattu put down a difficult chance off her own bowling and the 27-year-old soon made the hosts pay with a trio of boundaries to move into the nineties.
Perry pushed a single out to cover to bring up the 14th half century of her ODI career and she then upped the ante as the tourists looked to accelerate in the latter stages of the innings.
With a single out to midwicket, Bolton had her second ton for Australia from 138 balls and acknowledged the warm reception from teammates and family watching from the sidelines.
Bolton celebrated the milestone with her first six in international cricket, thanks to a fielding fumble over the rope at wide long-on.
Going for one aerial shot too many, Bolton’s fine display came to an end on 113 with what seemed to be a winning total already on the board.
Atapattu’s off-spin was the only thing that looked remotely threatening for the home side as she claimed 2-48 from her allotted 10 overs, with little support from the rest of the attack.
Sri Lanka opened up the run chase with a new combination at the top of the order as Hasini Perera joined wicketkeeper-batter Prasadani Weerakkody to begin their pursuit of 269.
However, Perera was soon back watching from square of the wicket when she lofted a full toss straight to Perry at point to hand Holly Ferling the first wicket of innings.
Atapattu and Weerakkody then combined to produce Sri Lanka’s most productive partnership of the series to provide something of a headache for Lanning and the Australians.
The Southern Stars skipper then turned to the in-form Beams to manufacture a wicket and she did just that with her first delivery of the afternoon.
Beams seemed to be the only one appealing for lbw, but it was clearly persuasive enough as Atapattu departed for 26.
The leggie made things even more difficult for the home side when Weerakkody offered a simple catch to Lanning at first slip for 33 and extended the damage with the wicket of Eshani Lokusooriya for 6 to leave Sri Lanka in big trouble at 4-97.
— Southern Stars 🌟 (@SouthernStars) September 25, 2016
Ferling returned to dismiss Nipuni Hansika for 5, while Beams capped off an incredible series with the wicket of Chamari Polgampola on 19.
With Beams’ 10-over spell yielding 4-26, it was over to her teammates to finish the job.
Rene Farrell – making her first appearance of the series in place of Megan Schutt – got a slice of the action as Ama Kanchana chipped one to Perry perfectly placed at short mid-off.
The right-arm seamer collected two more late wickets for her efforts to finish with 3-17 from her eight overs, while Ferling’s third wicket sealed the match in the 46thover as the pace spearhead claimed 3-30 from her 7.5 overs with Sri Lanka all out for 131.
Australia’s series clean sweep sees the reigning world champions move five games clear of West Indies on top of the ICC Championship table – albeit with three more matches played than their rivals.
Lanning’s side will take on Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 at Colombo’s SSC Ground on Tuesday before returning home to turn their attention to the five-match ODI campaign against South Africa on home soil in November.
T20: SSC Ground, 27 September at 6:30pm AEST