Fit-again Meg Lanning braces up for India challenge

Back from an injury lay-off, Lanning is back to lead Australia in a three-match ODI series in Baroda.

Alyssa Healy (left) and Meg Lanning at a training session in Mumbai on Monday.   -  PTI

Australian skipper Meg Lanning has not hit a ball in internationals after the Women’s World Cup semifinal against India last July. A troubling shoulder during the event, a surgery thereafter and a lay off for seven months removed her from the scene of action. She missed the home Ashes ODIS that Australia won 2-1 to earn four points for the ICC Women’s Championship (2017-2020).

The scrap against India at did not turn out to be memorable for her on two counts — she was bowled by Jhulan Goswami for zero and Australia lost the match by 36 runs.

Meg, who will turn 26 on March 25, recognises India’s recent good performances and expressed a wish to win some points during the three-match ODI series to be played in Vadodara on March 12,15, 18.

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But more importantly she hopes to hit the ground running. The ‘Southern Stars’ practised at MCA’s Bandra-Kurla-Complex facility on Monday. Talking about the ICC championship she said: “It shows that it’s really an open competition. Some tough games coming up against India, I guess. We are looking forward to start off well so that we can gain some points.”

The Indian team will be without Jhulan (200 wickets at 21.67) and responding to the circumstance the Indian teams finds itself in, Meg said “You stay ahead of the attack in any team. Jhulan will be a big loss. I think India has plenty of options and have been very successful over a period of time now. They did well in South Africa and we are expecting some really good bowling and looking forward to that challenge.”

Speaking about Jemima Rodrigues, Meg said: “she played in the Twenty20 against South Africa and looks a very attacking batter who likes to take the game on. We have to do some research on her. She shows the depth of Indian cricket. I think that’s really an exciting player coming through.”

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Touching upon her return to the national team, Meg, who needs one run to complete 3000 runs in ODIs, said: “I am excited to be back around the group. I am nervous before every game to be honest. I guess there is a little bit of the unknown, but hopefully it will come back quickly with these two practice games. Initially it’s adapting to the conditions, getting used to the heat and pitch and things like that. The practice wickets are playing well, typical sort of Indian wickets.’’

The visitors will play two warm-up matches against India ‘A’ at the BKC ground here on Tuesday and Thursday before the three match-series. Australia is placed fourth with four points in the women’s championship behind West Indies (6 points), India (4) and New Zealand (4).

Australia has a terrific record against India, winning 34 of the 43 ODIs. It has won 14 of the 18 played in India.