T20 World Cup newsfile: Australia favourites but India no pushover

4:00 PM ISTESPNcricinfo staffThe Women's T20 World Cup will be contested in Australia from February 21 and March 8. This page will keep you up to date with all the snippets of news from the eventFebruary 20Australia favourites but India no pushover - Mithali RajFormer India captain Mithali Raj has backed the current team to…

4:00 PM IST

  • ESPNcricinfo staff

The Women’s T20 World Cup will be contested in Australia from February 21 and March 8. This page will keep you up to date with all the snippets of news from the event

February 20

Australia favourites but India no pushover – Mithali Raj

Former India captain Mithali Raj has backed the current team to give Australia a run for their money in the opening match of the T20 World Cup in Sydney on Friday.

“Australia go in as favourites, but India will be no pushover,” she said in her ICC column. “They have some very talented players and I think it will be a very close, high-scoring game. Both teams have exciting players, particular in the batting units, and it will be a case of whoever can score the runs that their country need on the day.

“I do think Australia have the advantage because of their T20 record and have a slightly better chance of winning the first game against India but no matter what, it’s going to be a very exciting way to open the tournament.”

Raj, who played 10 Tests, 209 ODIs and 80 T20Is, said that more and more teams were now becoming competitive in the women’s game.

“The gap between the top and bottom teams is closing. You can’t go by the practice matches alone, but it does give you a rough indication of how the tournament could play out. Take Sri Lanka beating England for example — there is a possibility that could happen again. When you see these scores, and tight games, there is so much more quality now in the game, even just since the last edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. Teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh can compete too.”

Strano replaces Vlaeminck as Australia suffer big blow

Australia have called offspinner Molly Strano into their World Cup squad after it was confirmed that fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck would miss the tournament with a stress injury to her right foot.

Vlaeminck reported pain in her foot, with scans revealing a stress response of the third metatarsal and signs of an early stress fracture of the navicular – a bone in the top inner side of the foot.

“Tayla has been in brilliant form of late and established herself as one of the premier fast bowlers in international cricket,” Australia coach Matthew Mott said, “No one ever wants to see a player miss a major tournament in these kinds of circumstances, but I have no doubt she will bounce back from this setback and play a leading role in Australian squads for many years to come.”

“We are fortunate to have great depth across Australian cricket and Molly enters the squad in great form having recently been named the domestic player of the year.”

Strano has played five T20Is for Australia having debuted in 2017 and comes into the side off the back of a good season that saw her finish as the leading wicket-taker in the WBBL.

February 19

Vlaeminck set to miss World Cup

Australia fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck looks set to be ruled out of the T20 World Cup after picking up a foot injury just 48 hours before their opening match against India.

Vlaeminck, one of the fastest bowlers in the game, was wearing a moon boot during a team function in Sydney on Wednesday afternoon. More information is expected when Australia train at Sydney Showgrounds on Thursday, but team-mates are preparing for the news to not be too good for Vlaeminck, who has previously suffered a torrid injury list and has had two knee reconstructions.

“The medical staff are working through [it] but anything that requires a moon boot isn’t overly great,” Ellyse Perry said. “The whole squad has their fingers and toes crossed for Tay, but I don’t think it’s overly positive.”

Vlaeminck, who made her T20I debut during the previous World Cup in the West Indies, took seven wickets in three matches during the recent triangular series with England and India, rattling batters from both sides with her pace which was set to prove a telling point of difference to Australia’s attack.

February 18

England humbled during warm-up defeat

Chamari Atapattu inspired her Sri Lanka side to a surprise ten-wicket thrashing of England in both team’s final warm-up game before the tournament. England’s reshuffled batting line-up never got started, with Shashikala Siriwardene and Atapattu taking 4 for 22 and 3 for 21 respectively, before Atapattu crunched a 50-ball 78 to seal a ten-wicket win with 45 balls to spare.

Left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone in particular came in for some rough treatment, being hit for three sixes by Atapattu, while Freya Davies and Anya Shrubsole both proved expensive. While the game was not an official T20 international, Sri Lanka have never beaten England in the format, and have won only once in 15 completed ODIs against them, marking this out as a major upset.

“It was a disappointing performance, but I’d rather we got it out of the way ahead of the World Cup,” said England’s captain Heather Knight. “Chamari batted really well for Sri Lanka and she just took the game away from us. It might give us a little kick up the backside, which might not be a bad thing.

“We’re still in a good place. We’ve played a lot of good cricket over here and we need to take that into our first game against South Africa.”

February 17

Kulasuriya cleared of serious injury

There was a scary moment during Sri Lanka’s warm-up match against South Africa in Adelaide on Sunday when Achini Kulasuriya was struck on the head as she misjudged a catch as the two teams practiced a Super Over following the completion of their full game.

Kulasuriya lay on the ground for a period of time as she was treated by medical staff before being taken off a stretcher and sent to hospital. However, she was released back to the team hotel later in the day without a serious injury.

Speaking at the captain’s day in Sydney on Monday, Chamari Atapattu said Kulasuriya would miss Sri Lanka’s next warm-up match against England tomorrow but is expected to be fit for the start of the tournament itself when Sri Lanka face New Zealand in Perth.

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