AUSvPAK: This February, Australia will start its quest for a third straight Women’s T20 World Cup victory, but first, they must complete their domestic tasks. Meg Lanning is back and will captain the Australians against Pakistan in three ODIs and T20Is each, the team’s first home games since the Ashes in January. It is also Bismah Maroof’s long-awaited comeback, as this is Pakistan’s first bilateral series in Australia since 2014.
After their series against New Zealand in late 2020, Australia will play their first games at the renovated Allan Border Field on Monday in Brisbane.
The first two one-day matches will be played at the intimate venue, after which the action will move to Sydney for the third ODI at North Sydney Oval, followed by the first of three T20Is three days later. The series will then continue in Canberra’s Manuka Oval before Australia makes their long-awaited return to Hobart for their first game there since 2016.
The Squad in brief
Alyssa Healy will miss the ODI and T20I series as she continues to recuperate from a calf injury, while Meg Lanning returns to captain Australia after a five-month absence.
Australia has announced a 13-player ODI squad, and Kim Garth, another newcomer, may find herself adding an Australian one-day debut to the one she made for Ireland in July 2010. Phoebe Litchfield has the potential to follow up her T20I debut this month with her first ODI hat.
After suffering a hamstring strain in the first T20I against India, Jess Jonassen is expected to make a full recovery, and Tahlia McGrath will take over as vice-captain in Healy’s absence. Australia’s 14-man team for the T20Is is the same as their World Cup squad, with the exception of Healy, who will play in that competition again.
Phoebe Litchfield and Nicola Carey, who were both left off the 15-player team that overcame India in December, have been replaced by Lanning and leg-spinner Wareham.
Wareham was chosen ahead of teammate leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington, who was also the second wrist spinner in Australia’s squads for both the 50-over World Cup squad from last year and the August Commonwealth Games squad. Wellington was a late inclusion to the India tour due to Jess Jonassen’s injury mid-series.
Wareham, a two-time T20 World Cup champion, hasn’t played in a T20 match since rupturing her ACL in October 2021, but last week, she made her return to action for Victoria in the domestic one-day championship.
Diana Baig, a fast bowler for Pakistan, gets selected for both their ODI and T20I squads after recovering from a shoulder injury. Sadia Iqbal, a left-arm spinner, has also been called up to both squads. Young leg-spinner Tuba Hassan has taken Ghulam Fatima’s position as she withdrew from the tour due to personal matters. Former captain Javeria Khan, who was not selected for the Commonwealth Games, has been added to the T20 team.
Australia ODI squad:
Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland
Australia T20 squad:
Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
Pakistan ODI squad:
Bismah Maroof (c), Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadaf Shamas, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz, Tuba Hassan
Pakistan T20 squad:
Bismah Maroof (c), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Ayesha Naseem, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin, Sidra Nawaz, Tuba Hassan
On their T20 tour of India, Australia won 4-1, but not without being put to the test in a thrilling series. They haven’t played an ODI since the World Cup final in Christchurch in April, but several of their players recently participated in a domestic 50-over match in the WNCL. Of note, Ellyse Perry scored back-to-back hundreds, and Lanning scored 29 and 61 in her maiden matches after a six-month break.
Although Pakistan lost to the Governor-XI General’s by 53 runs on Friday, the match provided a great opportunity for them to become acclimated to the playing surface at Allan Border Field. Prior to it, they played Ireland at home in a November series in which they won the ODI series 3-0 but lost the T20I series 2-1.
After the returns of Lanning and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham, who will be aiming to regain form in the game’s shortest format alongside another injury returnee in Jess Jonassen, Australia will be eager to maintain the strong T20 form that saw them win 4-1 in India last month. They will also be focusing on fine-tuning their best XI.
In contrast, Pakistan will be seeking its first victory over Australia in any format. Achieving this goal would give Pakistan a big confidence boost going into the T20 World Cup, where they have never advanced past the group stage.
ICC Women’s Championship
In the three-match ODI series, ICC Women’s Championship points will be awarded. The Championship, which takes place every four years, decides which five countries, together with the hosts India, receive automatic qualification for the 2025 World Cup.
Australia’s first round of the new Championship, and having won the last two, they will be motivated to get all six points available. Pakistan, which has already competed in two rounds against Sri Lanka and Ireland, is currently ranked second after winning five of those six games.
AUSvPAK – Fixture
Monday, Jan 16: Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 10:05 am
Wednesday, Jan 18: Allan Border Field, Brisbane, 10:05 am
Saturday, Jan 21: North Sydney Oval, 11:05 am