Rusty Aussies ready for women's ODI opener
At the end of a long off-season but start of a long run-up to the World Cup, Meg Lanning admits to harbouring some nerves on the eve of Australia's series-opening ODI against India.
The multi-format series, featuring three one-dayers, a pink-ball Test and three Twenty20s, starts in Mackay on Tuesday.
India were slated to play in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in various versions of the schedule but lockdowns and border closures mean the tour is now entirely in Queensland.
Australia, out to extend their record 24-match ODI winning streak but weakened by the enforced omission of star bowlers Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen, started training together last week.
It was the first time the squad assembled since leaving New Zealand in April.
"First game of the summer, there's always a few nerves," captain Lanning said.
"It feels like it's been a long off-season.
"We've prepared as well as we could have. In an ideal world we probably would do it differently but that's just the way it is.
"There were a few nervous medical people (after the quarantine period) but everyone's pulled up really well.
"We've been able to adapt really well, over the last 18 months especially we've had a little bit of practice, and this time is no different."
Lanning headlined the players from Victoria and NSW to join India's squad in quarantining for a fortnight upon arriving in Brisbane.
That unique preparation, coupled with the absence of spearhead Schutt, means the hosts will likely rotate their young fast bowlers throughout coming weeks.
Stella Campbell, aged 19 and with pace to burn, could make her international debut as early as Tuesday.
"She's certainly in the mix," Lanning said.
"Lots of games in a short period of time ... it's a great opportunity for our squad to share the load and see some new players in action."
Australia and India, who squared off in a warm-up match on Saturday but otherwise haven't clashed since their unforgettable T20 World Cup final at the MCG in 2020, both have an eye on one-day World Cup selection dilemmas they must resolve in coming months.
"It's the best preparation we can ask for before the World Cup," India captain Mithali Raj said.
"It's important to give opportunity to players before the World Cup ... (but) we play to win, not just give opportunities."
Australia boast a star-studded batting order but are likely to be rustier than the tourists, who toured England earlier this year.
"We haven't played much cricket at all lately, they've played a bit," Lanning said.
"It's been a long time since we played them and both teams have evolved.
"We feel very lucky and privileged to have the opportunity to open the summer."
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