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Aussies chase 'huge carrot' of No.1 mantle

Southern Stars begin month-long limited-overs tour of India with a clear goal in their sights

A challenging test in subcontinental conditions and the opportunity to reclaim the title of world No.1 lays ahead of Australia as they embark on their limited-overs tour of India.

Australia's 14-player one-day international squad arrived in Mumbai late on Saturday night, led by returning skipper Meg Lanning who is set to make her international return after a seven-month stint on the sidelines following shoulder injury.

Lanning's team have one week to prepare for their three-match ODI series in Vadodara, which will see the Southern Stars fighting to claim valuable ICC Women's Championship points – which determine automatic World Cup qualification – and maintain their record of never having lost a 50-over series to India.

Those preparations began in earnest at Mumbai's BKC Ground on Sunday, where the squad were put through their paces in hot, humid conditions.

They'll play two practice matches ahead of India A this week before relocating to Vadodara for the three ODIs, valuable opportunities for the entire squad to adjust to the conditions – and for Lanning to finally test her recovered shoulder out in the middle.

"We've anticipated this tour for a long time," Australia coach Matthew Mott said on Sunday.

"We haven't got together as a group since the Ashes so it's an opportunity to finish off some unfinished business, we felt unsatisfied with the way the Ashes finished (drawn eight-all) and it's a good opportunity to play a quality team in tough conditions."

Lanning ready to return to the middle

Australia surrendered the No.1 ICC ranking (which combines both limited-overs formats) to England for the first time last October and they currently sit a single point behind their Ashes rivals in second spot.

The ODI series – and the T20 tri-series featuring India and England that will follow – is a chance for Australia to stamp their authority on the coveted title of 'world number one', Mott said.

"It's a huge carrot. We'd be lying if we said anything different.

"We were disappointed we didn't finish off the Ashes and take back that number one spot. We're playing two of the best teams in the world this tour and we see it as a huge opportunity to right some wrongs that happened at the end of the Ashes when we didn't finish England off."

While Australia haven't played a bilateral series in India since 2012, they have a strong recent record in cricket's most populous nation, having won the 50-over World Cup there in 2013 and finishing runners-up at the 2016 World T20.

But for six members of the 14-player ODI squad, the tour represents their first taste of cricket in India: opening batter Nicole Bolton, quick Belinda Vakarewa, leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, allrounder Ashleigh Gardner and uncapped Victorian Sophie Molineux.

'I'm still pinching myself': Molineux

"This week is about adapting to the conditions quickly as we can, getting our body clocks back on track," Mott said.

"For the players who haven't spent much time in the subcontinent it's a great opportunity just to feel the senses, the different culture involved here.

"The next four to five days are really important for those players to get a feel for the climate."

Australia's first warm-up match will be played from 9am local (2.30pm AEDT) on Tuesday, March 6.

Cricket.com.au will bring you news, highlights and an exclusive look behind the scenes throughout the month-long tour, while Fox Sports will broadcast all Australia's ODI and T20 matches.

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 (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), 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, BKC Ground, Mumbai, March 8

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

ODI series

First ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, March 12

Second ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, March 15

Third ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, 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