15/04/2024

Australian young pace bowler Darcie Brown (Picture: Cricket Australia, Design by Will Cuckson)

The T20 series between Australia and India kicks off with the first match played late on Friday night (local time) in Mumbai. The Inner Sanctum caught up with Darcie Brown to preview the series ahead of a big summer of cricket for the Australian Women’s Cricket Team.

In preparation for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2023, the Australian women will play two series against two top opponents. They will play a five-game T20 series against India and a home series against Pakistan in January which will feature three ODIs and three T20s.

The last time these two nations met in a limited-overs series was 2018 where the Australians won 3-0 in the ODIs portion of the tour before they also swept the T20 games 2-0.

Big Picture

Both teams are stacked with rising stars and big players making this series one to watch for all supporters. When looking at the visitors, it’s the inclusions of young batter Phoebe Litchfield, all-rounder Annabel Sutherland, tearaway-pacer Darcie Brown, and former Irish international Kim Garth that are looking towards the future.

On her first tour of India, young pace bowler Darcie Brown speaks exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about what she expects from the series and who is in for a big performance.

“I’m not sure what to expect [as] I haven’t been over to India before and from what I’ve heard it’s pretty hard to start batting on,” Brown explained.

“I think if Phoebe Litchfield gets a go then she will take it with both hands and absolutely kill it but I think stock standard, Megan Schutt is probably going to have a ripper. Her bowling is probably going to be probably ten times better over there, but I’m really excited to see what India is like and how people go [over] there as well.”

The Indian team are another formidable line-up boasting three of the top ten T20 batters in Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues. Deepti Sharma and Renuka Singh loom as two players to watch with the ball, featuring in the top three of the T20 bowlers in the world.

Last Time They Met

The Commonwealth Games gold medal match marks the last time these two powerhouse sides met in a T20 game. Australia took home the bragging rights with the gold medal from the first ever Women’s Cricket event in the games’ history.

That day it was an Indian batting collapse that saw the thrilling result play out with India losing 8-34 to be bowled out for 152 in the final over.

Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur threatened, smashing 65 off 43 deliveries before being bowled out by Ashleigh Gardner. It was Gardner’s performance that was key, taking three wickets (Verma, Kaur and Vastrakar) that was key alongside her 25 runs in the batting innings.

In the first innings it was Beth Mooney’s 61 off 41 deliveries in a key partnership with captain Meg Lanning that helped to anchor the batting. Renuka Singh and Sneh Rana were the two bowlers of choice for India taking the key wickets of Healy, Harris, Mooney and Gardner.

Australia claimed gold in T20 cricket. (Photo: Australian Women’s Cricket Team/Twitter)

Key Players

Darcie Brown

Brown herself is coming into the series off some great form in the WBBL which saw her team, the Adelaide Strikers, take out the title. She’s taken five wickets in the last seven WBBL games including the two key scalps of her Australian teammates Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry.

Already having taken part in a few tours aboard in Australian colours as part of the top team, Brown will be looking to build and continue to get better under the tutelage of some more experienced talent.

Brown explained that her goal for improvement over the series/summer is increasing the number of balls she is bowling that targets the stumps.

“I guess my main goal but something that’s happening was [I wanted to increase] my percentage of hitting the stumps,” she explained.

“I target the stumps because you are more likely to get a wicket there and that’s sort of my role is to get early wickets so we just try and get a percentage and then from there hopefully we can sort it out for future tournaments as well.

“I’ve been working hard to get my arm up a bit higher as well, it’s fallen down the last year and I need to get back up to my original pace.”

If Brown can get this percentage up during the tour, she will be a dangerous player to face in India alongside her Strikers teammate Megan Schutt.

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Alyssa Healy

Another Australian looking to have a big impact is Alyssa Healy who has been named captain of the tour. Standing in for Meg Lanning, Healy’s credentials are undeniable, leading at WNCL and standing in at WBBL level for the NSW Breakers and Sydney Sixers respectively.

In the last WBBL season, Healy had a reasonably lean tournament, making in excess of 31 only twice in the last ten innings (107* and 78). Taking on the captaincy and having a point to prove, Brown thinks she will also be another player that will relish the opportunity.

“It’s really exciting for her [to be named captain], she’s obviously been a big leader in our group already even if she didn’t necessarily have the title,” Brown explained

“[I’m] really looking forward to her, she adds a bit of fun and she understands where people come from and is quite relatable so looking forward to working with her in India.”

Kim Garth

Looking to get a start in a stacked pace attack, Kim Garth will look to add to her 89 international appearances for Ireland with one for her new nation Australia.

If she gets a start in India, she will be crucial with the new ball or as a first-change bowler. Bringing experience at the level will help this side which will be without veterans Rachael Haynes (retired) and Meg Lanning.

Deepti Sharma

Deepti Sharma is one of the best all-rounders in the world with her batting ability catching up to the bowling she has become renowned for. Bowling in the death overs and the powerplay, she has become a real trump card for her team on the international stage.

In the absence of Pooja Vastrakar who was not selected due to injury, Sharma’s role will be more important against the stacked Australian line-up. In her 40 T20 matches she’s taken 26 wickets at an economy of six, she also averages 16 with the bat which she will look to improve on.

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Jemimah Rodrigues

When looking at rising talents in the international game, Rodrigues is only just finding her feet at the level with her potential still to be realised. Having been awarded the award for Best Domestic Junior Women’s cricketer and scoring a double-century in an ODI, she has an ability that is beyond her 22 years of age.

As a middle-order batter, she has a crucial role alongside Kaur in building an innings and ensuring that the team bats out the innings. From her 57 batting innings, she has scored 1490 runs, including nine 50s, with a high score of 76.

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Harmanpreet Kaur

Being ruled out of the WBBL due to injury, the Indian skipper makes her return to cricket for the first time since the Asian Cup where India took out the title in October. Before that tournament, Kaur enjoyed a fantastic run in the series against England where she scored 221 runs in the three ODI games, with her high score of 143 in the third match at Canterbury.

Playing 137 games in the T20 format, Kaur has scored 2694 runs with a highest score of 103. Alongside that century she has eight 50s to her name, averaging 27.48 with the bat in that middle-order batting role.

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Predicted XI’s

India: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana (VC), Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Radha Yadav, Yastika Bhatia, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh

Australia: Alyssa Healy (C), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Nicola Carey, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown

The Squads

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (C), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Richa Ghosh, Harleen Deol.

Australia: Alyssa Healy (C), Tahlia McGrath (VC), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland

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