The India A women’s cricket team begin their maiden tour of Australia on December 12 in Brisbane against Australia A, and the revival of the ‘A’ tours for women is seen as a step forward in the pursuit of bridging the huge gap between domestic and international cricket.
The two teams will play three one-dayers and three T20s, with the final T20 scheduled for December 23. All the one-dayers will be played in Brisbane, while the rest of the games will be at the Bill Pippen Field in Gold Coast.
Led by Veda Krishnamurthy, the Indian team will have their task cut out against a strong Australia A side, and some players will be looking to use this tour to gain valuable experience ahead of the T20 World Cup (February 21 – March 8) which will be held Down Under.
For India A, who hosted Australia A in 2018 and got outplayed by them in the one-dayers, the focus will be on the likes of Priya Punia, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Devika Vaidya and Nuzhat Parween along with the skipper as they are all likely to feature in the World Cup too.
The visitors will look to return with positive results from the six games they will play, but much like the Indian men’s team who are preparing for the T20 World Cup, are going to focus more on the experience and the process of building a strong bench of players who can not only challenge the more established but also be able to seamlessly take to international cricket.
India coach WV Raman is sure to take note of the performances on this tour before the final squad for the World Cup is decided on and will expect all the players to put their best foot forward.
Given the proximity to the World Cup, the Australian camp will also be treating the contests in a similar manner as India with the coach Matthew Mott making it clear that there are a few spots for the final 15-player squad.
“We’ve said from day one, the WBBL is very important for T20 selection and pretty much all of those players have performed at some point through this tournament," Mott told cricket.com.au of the Australia A squad.
“Our top 12 will probably pick themselves and (after that) you look at who are potentially good impact players off the bench who can fill a couple of roles.”
While women’s cricket in India has often stayed away from the spotlight, good performances in recent years is forcing some changes and the maiden tour of Australia for the A team can only help improve the standards of the reserves.
The ‘A’ tours is a part of an agreement between Cricket Australia (CA) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to host annual ‘A’ series between the two nations.
India ‘A’ squad: Veda Krishnamurthy (c), Anuja Patil (vc), Priya Punia, Shafali Verma, Harleen Deol, Devika Vaidya, D Hemalatha, Tanusree Sarkar, Sushma Verma (wicket-keeper), Nuzhat Parween (wicket-keeper), Mansi Joshi, Arundhati Reddy, Renuka Singh, Manali Dakshini, T P Kanwar
Australia ‘A’ Squad: Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Heather Graham, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Bridget Patterson, Georgia Redmayne, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia Wilson
Australia A T20 Squad: Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Josie Dooley, Heather Graham, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Bridget Patterson, Sammy Jo Johnson, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Australia ‘A’ vs India ‘A’ fixtures
First One Day: 12 December, Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 5:30 am IST
Second One Day: 14 December, Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 5:30 am IST
Third One Day: 16 December, Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 5:30 am IST
First T20: 19 December, Bill Pippen Field, Gold Coast, 9 am IST
Second T20: 21 December, Bill Pippen Field, Gold Coast, 9 am IST
Third T20: 23 December, Bill Pippen Field, Gold Coast, 9 am IST