The past three months have brought two firsts for Alyssa Healy, each of which have had an air of deferred inevitability about them: a maiden Women's Big Bash League ton in January, followed by her first international century. If the WBBL ton - a 66-ball 106 against the Adelaide Strikers - in her 41st appearance in the league was a statement of intent, her 115-ball 133 against India in the third ODI took shape of a roller-coaster ride and ended up imparting a long-awaited degree of validation to her 136-match international career.
"Yeah, it was a big feeling of relief, I guess," Healy said after Austalia's win on Sunday. "Played a lot of cricket to not have one (century). Pretty excited to sit here with finally a hundred under my belt. And hopefully get a couple more before I pull up stumps. It's obviously been a long six months for us. I feel lucky I have been hitting the ball well.
"It was probably just about adjusting to the conditions a little bit better and the spinners. So, yeah, obviously got off to the flier in the first game and got myself out. [I] did a lot of work to spin in the last few days. To come out today, and play positively was something I'm pretty proud of and hopefully I can take that into the tri-series."
Even though she started off in a scratchy manner, scoring only 13 off her first 22 deliveries, Healy got her eye in and shot her strike rate over 100 by smashing 14 runs off frontline quick Shikha Pandey in the eighth over and went on to score 43 off 34 against her overall, evading two dropped catches on 23 and 125.
"I guess the pace was comfortable to me," Healy said about the fluency she found against Pandey. "I enjoy facing spin, but with pace coming on, I feel quite comfortable with that. It was about attacking that end. I got some balls that I thought I'd like to hit and gave it a good whack. So obviously that pace change-up got us going."
After clobbering two fours and a six in Pandey's fourth over, Healy left the medium-pacer's line and India captain Mithali Raj's field placements in disarray as she cracked four fours off five deliveries off Pandey's eighth over. First up, she backed away and slashed at a wide one that flew over Harmanpreet at mid-off. With five fielders patrolling the off-side inner ring, Healy then followed it up with a square drive off an offcutter, and slapped the next one through the cover-point region.
One ball later, Raj would push the cover fielder back, only to invite Healy to loft over mid-off again for a fourth four. The sixth delivery, a back-of-a-length offcutter, had Deepti Sharma back pedal from extra cover to chase a skier, but gave Healy her third life of the innings and another two runs to her tally.
"You need a bit of luck to make runs in cricket," Healy said of her three chances, including a drop by Mona Meshram at deep square leg in the 20th over. "You can't go through your career, hitting the ball along the ground and being safe.
"For me, it was probably just the luck I needed. I've been hitting the ball all summer, so yeah, to come out here and get a bit of luck in this series is really handy. Obviously, it helped me get there today, but unfortunately, Mona Meshram didn't have such a great game, but I'm sure she'll bounce back no doubt. She fielded really well, the ground fielding. So hopefully she comes back out in the T20Is".
Despite losing opening partner Nicole Bolton in the sixth over and Meg Lanning in the 11th, Healy sustained herself for 40.2 overs without tweaking much of her approach. It is a method, she said, that is rooted in her role, which "isn't too different" from what her game is best suited to.
"Naturally, I will take the game on. For me, it's about choosing the right time to do that and obviously we lost the couple of wickets early but we've got such a great batting line-up that we know we don't want to take a backward step when that happens. So it's important that we keep going and keep pushing and keep manipulating the field movement. Yeah, fortunately it came off today. You build big totals by continuing with that momentum and I think we did that well today."
Dwelling upon Australia's much-vocal intent of posting totals in excess of 300, Healy said it was an aspect much of their pre-tour discussions had been centred on.
"It's a goal for us to consistently hit that mark," she said. "We did that quite comfortably in the end today. We have got so much power right down our batting order, which is really exciting. For us at the top order, it's just about setting up the game and then let them do their thing at the bottom. The 3-0 result is something we have spoken about a lot, so yeah, really pleased."
While stating that a deep batting order helped her stay true to her attacking approach, she also said it aided her in turning things around after a vapid performance, as was witnessed in her 37-ball 19 in the second ODI.
"Naturally, I'm a fairly aggressive cricketer. For me it's about playing that way, having that intent all the time. When I dig myself into a hole like I did in the last game, it's about getting out of that smartly. I'm always probably going to play more aggressively than others but yeah you're right in saying that we've got such a powerful line-up that I could push a bit at the top."
Looking back on the 3-0 scoreline, Healy, with her trademark candour, acknowledged that exacting "revenge" for the knockout defeat in the World Cup semi-final was on top of the visitors' agenda coming into the series.
"Yeah, look, there's a little bit of revenge there," she said, "I won't lie. To come out and beat them 3-0 is really special. They've got a really exciting, talented group of players and they showed that at the World Cup. Unfortunately, they couldn't get over the line in the end, but they pulled our pants down in the semi-final. So for us to come out and play the way we did, play aggressively, put it back on them, I think the group is proud of that."