Nicole Bolton’s patience paid off in more ways than one at R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.
The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars opener produced a composed knock of 113 from 146 deliveries to anchor her side’s innings for 49.2 overs on the way to an intimidating total of 3-268 in the fourth and final one-day international against Sri Lanka.
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Bolton became the 11th Southern Stars player to post multiple ODI hundreds with yesterday’s performance now sitting alongside her 124 against England in January 2014.
On that occasion, the then 25-year-old became the first – and still only – Australian woman to score a century on ODI debut.
Speaking immediately after the 137-run victory capped off a dominant four-nil series clean sweep for the reigning world champions, Bolton admitted the latest hundred carried different feelings to the unforgettable debut.
“The first one was a bit of blur, because it was my debut,” Bolton told cricket.com.au.
“But this one, there’s been a lot of hard work gone into the pre-season and then in Sri Lankan conditions it’s always nice to contribute as well.
“I think the first one because it was my debut, you’re away with the fairies a little bit and whatever happens, happens.
“Now that I’ve started to establish myself in the team you always want to be making runs and I think it’s been a long time between hundreds so it’s been nice to get another today.
“I was disappointed to not go on with it when I made 60-odd the other day.
“As an opener you want to make those innings count and I got another opportunity today.”
The Sri Lankan bowlers have been wayward at times throughout the series, but the hosts maintained a disciplined bowling channel along with clever field placements to make scoring difficult for the Australian batters yesterday.
Bolton and co. instead had to grind out the 50 overs and make running between the wickets the feature of their game, while also ensuring they did indeed capitalise on anything loose.
Elyse Villani and Bolton again made a productive start to the innings, before Villani was trapped in front for 22 to bring captain Meg Lanning out to the middle.
Australia’s skipper looked in ominous touch from the moment she crunched a square drive to the fence from the second ball she faced.
Bolton produced some class of her own with deft late cuts off the spinners a go-to shot on a number of occasions, but the Western Australian was - for the most part - happy to take a low-key approach to the innings.
Lanning’s dismissal for 43 brought allrounder Ellyse Perry to the crease for what would turn out to be a 140-run stand for the third wicket.
Bolton collected eight fours and her first six in international cricket courtesy of a dropped catch on the wide long-on boundary to take her series tally to 231 runs at an average of 57.75 from the four matches – 116 runs clear of the next most prolific in Villani.
This series has been the left-hander’s first ODI campaign in Asia and she believes that factor makes Sunday’s knock one of the finest of her career so far.
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“It’s right up there,” Bolton said.
“Almost batting through with a couple of really good partnership with Pez (Ellyse Perry) and Meg (Lanning) as well.
“And just the subcontinent. I’ve never really played a lot of cricket over in the subcontinent, so it was really nice to come out today and get the job done.”
“Elyse (Villani) and I got off to a pretty good start and then when Meg comes out it’s pretty easy just sitting from the non-striker’s end watching someone like her come out and make it look pretty easy.
“Pez and I were probably a bit slow to start off, but once we kicked into our partnership and she really stepped it up a notch I think we just found it a lot easier to score.
“I think we ended up going at nine an over in the last 10 which is unbelievable on a pitch like that.”
Bolton is largely seen as an ODI specialist and will likely sit out Tuesday’s Twenty20 at the SSC Ground in Colombo, before returning home to represent the Western Fury in the WNCL ahead of November’s home ODI series against South Africa.