Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Melbourne [Australia], January 31 (ANI): The five-time ICC Women's T20 World Cup champions and the current Number 1 T20I team on the ICC Women's Team Rankings, Australia will go into the 2023 edition of the tournament as favourites and skipper Meg Lanning is excited about representing her country for the fifth time in this tournament, which will take place from February 10 to 26.

The hopes are high, and the excitement levels are "bubbling under the surface", admitted Australia skipper Meg Lanning.

"It may be my fifth ICC Women's T20 World Cup, but trust me, the excitement bubbling under the surface in the lead-up never goes away," Lanning said as quoted by an ICC.

Despite her glorious career so far involving World Cup wins and memorable moments, it will be Lanning's and most of her squad members' first time in South Africa.

"For one, it will be the first time I and most of the squad have been to South Africa, and while we cannot wait to drink in the culture, we still have a job to do. Not that it will come as a shock, but there is a title to defend, so sightseeing will have to wait," Lanning said.

"A new country brings new challenges, most notably adjusting to the conditions. There is just over a week between our flight and our opener against New Zealand in Paarl on February 10. But the one thing we have proven over the years is that our most valuable weapon is adaptability, both in training and on the field."Since the last T20 World Cup in 2020, which Australia won in front of a packed MCG crowd on International Women's Day, the Australian team has gone through a period of transitions and introduced some exciting talents.

"Our squad has gone through a period of change since the last World Cup, but I think that is a positive," added Lanning.

"We are constantly evolving and we have great flexibility in our team at the moment both with bat and ball.""There is a real mix of youth with experience, and we have got players who can play a number of different roles depending on the opposition. T20 cricket is really all about role-playing and our preparation has been key in exploring different threats as well as providing the newer members of our squad with experience at the international level," concluded Lanning.

Lanning is pleased with the performances of some of the new members of her squad, with two players being Kim Garth and Heather Graham.

"For fresh arrivals Kim Garth and Heather Graham, the 4-1 series win in India was the perfect opportunity to integrate themselves ahead of South Africa. We were all aware of their quality, but I am not sure any of us expected they would assimilate as quickly as they did. Heather's hat trick in the final match was a great example of what she is capable of and as for Kim, I know better than anyone how dangerous she can be. I fully expect both to continue their fine form against Pakistan.

Graham shone in the series against India in subcontinent conditions during December last year, which saw her pick up seven wickets in total, including a spell of 4/8 in the final T20I.

But there is one player in particular that excites her the most, the all-rounder Grace Harris, who has represented Aussies in 27 T20Is and scored 299 runs with a fifty at a strike rate of over 172. She also has taken seven wickets.

"But perhaps the one player I am most excited to see at a T20 World Cup for the first time is Grace Harris. She has grabbed her second opportunity for Australia with both hands. Her strike rate shows she is one of the world's biggest hitters and she is someone who can do things other people cannot. She is very powerful, hits the ball a long way and particularly in this format can take the game away from the opposition in a very short space of time. The way the game has developed in the last few years, no score is safe, especially when Grace is at her best.""We fly to South Africa with the task of emulating our record-breaking win in Melbourne three years ago. The sight of 86,000-plus fans packed into the MCG to watch us play close to a perfect game will never be beaten. It was an experience that will stay with me until the day I die. Certainly, a tough act to follow and nothing less than the three-peat will suffice," concluded Lanning. (ANI)

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