Have to make every game count: Lanning | cricket.com.au

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Have to make every game count: Lanning

The bigger picture of an upcoming World Cup sets the scene for a riveting trans-Tasman series

Australia captain Meg Lanning has called on her players to make the most of their six upcoming limited-overs matches against New Zealand as she looks ahead to her team's 50-over World Cup title defence in June.

The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars will play the White Ferns in three T20s on home soil – starting this Friday at the MCG – before heading across the Tasman for a three-game one-day international series.

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It's the last series Australia will play before they travel to England in June, presenting a crucial opportunity for the defending champions to refine their limited-overs cricket and for players to press their cases for World Cup selection.

"We don't have a lot of games before the World Cup, so whether they're T20 or one-day matches, I don't think it really matters," Lanning said after Australia training at the Albert Ground on Wednesday.

"It's important we get our style of game going and make sure we nail that down and make sure we're playing the way we want to.

"New Zealand have a lot of world-class players and we've had some good battles against them in the past, so I'm sure this series will be no different."

Australia are without one massive name for the T20 leg of the series, with Ellyse Perry recovering from a hamstring injury.

While Lanning conceded the superstar allrounder would be tough to cover, she can see the value in handing opportunities to up-and-coming players pressing their cases for World Cup selection.

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The Southern Stars are likely to field at least two T20I debutants on Friday, with allrounder Ashleigh Gardner, off-spinner Molly Strano, seamer Sarah Aley and leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington all vying for spots in the XI.

Of those, only Gardner and Wellington are included in the 50-over squad that will play New Zealand in Auckland and Mount Maunganui later this month, but it remains an opportunity for Strano and Aley to press their cases for World Cup consideration.

"(Perry) is a massive loss, there's no getting away from that," Lanning said.

"She's a top-four batter and a bowler who brings great balance to the team.

"But it gives an opportunity for someone else to come in and step up and show what they can do."

New Zealand have one key name missing from their squad as well, with star allrounder Sophie Devine ruled out with a broken finger from the Rebel Women's Big Bash League.

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The White Ferns have had the wood over Australia in the 20-over format in recent times, winning their series last year 2-1 before cruising to victory when the teams met during the group stage of the World T20 in India. It is a record captain Suzie Bates is eager to continue.

"I think we're up with there with Australia and England as a T20 side and in one-dayers," Bates said.

"Perhaps we haven't been as consistent as we would have liked but we've gone well in T20s recently.

"We've got a one-day series at home after this which will also be a good test of where we are at leading up to the World Cup."

The three T20s will be played as double-headers alongside the men’s KFC T20 INTL series against Sri Lanka, with all three matches to be broadcast live on Nine’s Wide World of Sports.

Australia v New Zealand T20s

17 February: MCG, Melbourne, 2.05pm AEDT

19 February: Kardinia Park, Geelong, 2.35pm AEDT

22 February: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2.05pm AEDT

Australia v New Zealand ODIs

26 February: Eden Park No.2, Auckland, 9am AEDT

2 March: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 9am AEDT 

5 March: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, 9am AEDT

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