Australia – within touching distance of title no.5

Australia are the defending champions. © ICC

Home advantage often plays a crucial role in any sport. In recent times, especially in cricket, this ‘home advantage’ has helped teams win the World Cup. In 2011, 2015 and 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup India, Australia and England respectively walked away as world champions. In 2017, England’s women’s team won the ODI World Cup.

The 2020 edition of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is going to take place in Australia. The hosts, four-time champions who won their last title in 2018 in the West Indies, look set to defend their crown.

This edition of the World Cup is already billed as the biggest in terms of numbers. #FillTheMCG is already being popularized on various social media platforms and Tourism Australia is also leaving no stone unturned to make the event bigger and better.

It certainly can’t get bigger than this for the defending champions. In front of their fans, families and friends, Australia will surely aim for glory.

13 players who participated in the last T20 World Cup have been included in Australia’s squad for the 2020 edition as well. The management trusts the players and has confidence in the group.

ALSO READ: Australia squad for T20 World Cup 2020

Meg Lanning leads the squad and will be crucial to her team’s fortunes. The mercurial skipper often comes good in ICC tournaments and is a big match player. In the 23 T20 World Cup matches, the stylish right-hander has scored 711 runs at an average of 37.42, including four half-centuries and one hundred.

Lanning’s talents aside, Australia have enviable batting depth – they boast of the quality of Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, and Ashleigh Gardner to name a few. Mooney, in particular, has been in superb form. The left-hander scored over 400 runs in T20Is in 2019 which included a hundred against Sri Lanka. The left-hander often bats through the innings, allowing the more attacking Healy to go hammer and tongs at the top.

Australia have packed their squad with six allrounders. Perry, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Erin Burns, Delissa Kimmince, Nicola Carey, Gardner and Annabel Sutherland all double up as batters and bowlers, giving the hosts plenty of versatility.

Another exciting name in the squad is young Tayla Vlaeminck. The right-arm fast-bowler – one of the quickest going around – has had batters hopping around trying to fend off her rapid deliveries. She consistently troubled the batters of England and India with her steep bounce through the T20I tr-series. She will support the fast bowling pair of Megan Schutt and Perry who rely more on swing and accuracy.

“This tournament can be a real turning point for women’s sport around the world, it’s a really big event, there’s a lot of talk around it – certainly more hype than I’ve ever experienced before – so hopefully that’s a sign of everyone jumping on board and getting involved. Hopefully, we can look back on this tournament as a real moment from which women’s sport takes off,” Lanning wrote.

 Key Player:

Ellyse Perry of Australia appeals for an lbw against India. © Getty Images

Ellyse Perry, the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2019, will undoubtedly lead Australia’s charge with both bat and ball. The allrounder, who has enjoyed a wonderful few years in the international circuit is all set to feature in her seventh T20 World Cup. She is the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 36 wickets to her credit. Her form with the ball in recent times has been exceptional – India suffering the wrath of one of her more sensational spells in the recently concluded tri-series.

ALSO READ: Ellyse Perry’s day out against India

With the bat too, Perry will play a key role through the tournament. While she is likely to be a bit of a floater within a line-up that has plenty of firepower, the allrounder’s contributions will hold Australia in good stead. Her ability to play the role of an anchor and also an aggressor makes her a vital part of the line-up.

One to Watch:

Annabel Sutherland in action. © Getty Images

Annabel Sutherland’s inclusion in Australia’s squad for the T20 World Cup came as a surprise to many. The 18-year-old allrounder bolted into the squad on the back of some wonderful form in the domestic circuit for Victoria, Melbourne Stars and Australia A.

Having made her debut in the T20I series, Sutherland has already shown great promise. In her first T20I against England, Sutherland scored 22 runs off just 11 balls and almost took Australia over the line. She came at a crucial juncture in the run-chase of 157 and her composure and calmness stood out. At just 18, Sutherland’s match awareness was lauded by experts and critics. She will certainly try to replicate that form in the World Cup, provided if she gets an opportunity.

Expectations:

Over the course of the last two years, Australia have lost just the two T20Is (each) against India and England. They have firmly broken away from the rest of the pack in terms of structure, skill and selection. A top-four finish looks certain, but they will be gunning to win title no.5 in front of their home crowd.

ALSO READ: Lessons from the T20I tri-series

Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes, Erin Burns,Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.

Fixtures:

February 21: Australia vs India, in Sydney (Showground)
February 24: Australia vs Sri Lanka, in Perth (WACA)
February 27: Australia vs Bangladesh, in Canberra  (Manuka Oval )
March 2: Australia vs New Zealand, in Melbourne (Junction Oval)