'Fearless' Aussies look to go to next level

With a World T20 on the horizon, Australia are prepared to push boundaries and take risks, setting the tone with a demolition job on India A

If Australia's current mantra is "be fearless", then Tuesday's efforts in their first practice match against India A was a huge step in the right direction.

Leading into the limited-overs tour of India, which will play a major role not only in Australia's ICC Women's Championship campaign but also into their planning for the upcoming World T20, Australia head coach Matthew Mott vowed to stand by his players if they took risks in the aim to taking their team to the next level.

It's an important ideal: despite their strong results in the 50-over format in recent years, Australia haven't posted a total above 300 in an ODI since 2012.

And as they look to turn around a recent below-par record in T20I cricket, the ability to push the boundaries could prove make-or-break as they seek to win back the World T20 title they surrendered to West Indies in 2016.

In Tuesday's first warm-up match against India A at Mumbai's BKC Ground – albeit against a relatively inexperienced XI – Australia were sent into bat and posted a mammoth 8-413.

The generally measured Nicole Bolton, coming off an outstanding Rebel WBBL campaign, kicked off proceedings with a 38-ball 58, while Beth Mooney – playing to earn back her place in the ODI XI – batted like she had nothing to lose in her 83-ball 115.

And when Ashleigh Gardner strode to the crease, she produced one of her innings of sheer natural, almost lackadaisical talent to clear the ropes six times in a late-innings 90 off 44.

"I think as batting unit especially, we did (take a fearless approach)," Mooney said after play.

"(Ellyse) Perry batted really well and she and I had a great partnership, both Alyssa Healy and Nicole Bolton took the game on early, and Ash at the end, being both brave and fearless without being reckless, was something we can be better at and today showed we have it in us."

Gardner cleared the rope six times //
Gardner cleared the rope six times //

Reproducing that effort against a near full-strength India team when the three-match ODI series begins in Vadodara next Monday will be a different matter, but Mooney hopes Tuesday's hit out will set the tone for the tour ahead.

"It was a really good opportunity for the batters to get out and spend time in middle, to assess the conditions early and adapt quickly, while the bowlers did a good job as well," she said.

For Mooney personally, who has been in a rich vein of form in T20Is and the WBBL since being dropped from the ODI team last October, the ability to take a fearless approach to batting has stemmed from missing out on that Ashes one-day team.

Mooney and Perry toiled in the Mumbai heat //
Mooney and Perry toiled in the Mumbai heat //

"It's a fickle game, cricket, I was on the raw end of being dropped last year and that put things into perspective for me and made me realise it's not all doom and gloom," she said.

"It's made me go out there and bat how I want to bat and have no fear about the consequences.

"I've probably lacked a bit of confidence in the one-day format since the Ashes, so to go out there and have a better plan and go out there and score runs especially in these conditions is invaluable.

"To get the monkey off the back early in the series, spend a bit of time in the middle and expose myself to different bowlers is very important."

Australia will play a second warm-up against the same India A side on Thursday before flying to Vadodara, where the first of three ODIs will be played on March 12. will provide news, scores, highlights and behind-the-scenes coverage from on the ground in India, while Fox Sports will broadcast all three ODIs and the T20I tri-series that will follow live. 

Australia tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington

Australia T20 squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Naomi Stalenberg, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington

India ODI squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Harmanpreet Kaur (vice-captain), Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Pooja Vastrakar, Deepti Sharma

Warm-up match v India A, Australia won by 321 runs

Warm-up match v India A, BKC Ground, Mumbai, March 6

ODI series

First ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 12

Second ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 15

Third ODI Reliance Stadium, Vadodara, March 18

T20I tri-series

First T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 22

Second T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 23

Third T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 25

Fourth T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, March 26

Fifth T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 28

Sixth T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 29

Final Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 31