ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Aussies keep focus as clouds gather over Cup campaign
Australia are putting a worrying weather outlook out of mind as they prepare for a must-win clash against Sri Lanka
Laura Jolly in Perth
23 February 2020, 07:09 PM AEST
Storm clouds are gathering over Australia's T20 World Cup campaign, with unseasonal Perth rain threatening to spoil what looms as a must-win clash for the defending champions on Monday.
Australia need to defeat Sri Lanka at the WACA Ground to give themselves the best chance of advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament, after dropping their first group game to India in Sydney on Friday.
Meg Lanning's team have never been beaten by their eighth-ranked opponents in any format and while there's no discounting the threat posed by hard-hitting Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu, Australia go into the match as red-hot favourites to collect their first two points of the campaign.
However, the Bureau of Meteorology was on Sunday forecasting thunderstorms and up to 15mm of rain for Monday – more than the average total rainfall for the whole of February in Perth, which is typically the driest month in the Western Australia capital.
The precipitation is predicted to fall during the afternoon; a worry given the scheduled start time of 3pm local (6pm AEDT) for the Australia v Sri Lanka game.
A washout would see the teams split the points.
Australia, India and New Zealand are the sides most likely to be battling it out for the top two spots in Group A, with Lanning's team the only one of the three yet to register a win after Sophie Devine's White Ferns accounted for Sri Lanka at the WACA Ground on Saturday night.
Asked if she was concerned by the forecast, Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes said: "Not really."
"I heard about that earlier today," she continued.
"You can't really control those things and certainly at a big event like this I'd expect if there was rain around that the officials and the ground staff would do everything in their power to make sure we got a game in.
"We face that challenge tomorrow, it's not of any concern but we'll make sure we play what's in front of us and if the match is affected (by rain) we'll be prepared for that."
The Australian camp had little time to dwell on Friday's 17-run defeat, boarding a plane for Perth early the following morning.
Haynes said the mood in the squad was upbeat despite the disappointing start.
"I think the squad's in a good place and looking forward to the challenge tomorrow," she said.
"The first game didn't go to plan but that's sometimes the nature of World Cup games, you don't have it all your own way.
"The challenge that lies ahead of us isn't too dissimilar to the challenge a lot of teams face, in that if you want to win the World Cup and be part of it at the business end, you pretty much have to win five games of cricket.
"That's what's in front of us and that starts tomorrow against Sri Lanka."
It was awesome to take some time out this morning to hang with these local legends at a Cricket For Good clinic! 🙌🏏 #T20WorldCup pic.twitter.com/o4UBt9ssAP— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) February 23, 2020
On Sunday the majority of the 15-player squad hit the training track for an optional session at Murdoch University, with the top six batters – Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes and Ashleigh Gardner – among those going through their paces.
One notable absentee from the session was allrounder Sophie Molineux, who has yet to recover from the corked thigh – an injury caused when she fell on a ball during a training drill ahead of the tri-series final on February 12 – that kept her out of the tournament opener.
Given the vastly different conditions expected at the WACA, compared to Sydney Showground Stadium, Australia selectors will weigh up changes to the playing XI for Monday's match.
Aside from Molineux; off-spinning allrounder Erin Burns, leg-spinner Georgia Wareham and pace bowler Nicola Carey all sat out the opening game and could be considered for recalls.
Carey picked up the key wicket of Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu once during the CommBank T20I series in Sydney last October, while the spin of Burns and Wareham also featured heavily during those matches.
But Haynes expects the typically pace-friendly conditions at the WACA Ground to also have a major say in selection.
"If I was a pace bowler I'd certainly be steaming in today," the Australian vice-captain said.
"It seems to be the pace bowlers find a little bit of extra Ks in these conditions.
"No doubt it'll be a tough nets session, I'm not sure where the selectors will go with their decisions, but we've certainly seen in the past the WACA offers a little bit more pace and bounce."
2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
February 21: Australia v India, Sydney Showgrounds
February 24: Australia v Sri Lanka, WACA Ground
February 27: Australia v Bangladesh, Manuka Oval
March 8: Final, MCG
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE
* All matches will be broadcast on Fox Cricket and Kayo, while Australia's matches will also be broadcast on the Nine Network