One of cricket’s newest and best rivalries resumes this week as Australia’s women team take on India in the first-leg of their multi-format series.
In the midst of a record-breaking 24-match winning streak in ODI cricket, Australia take on the team helped spur them to the heights they have reached on this winning run.
It was at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017 that India sent the first shot across the bow, knocking the tournament favourites out in the semi-finals. It was a loss delivered largely by the bat of Harmanpreet Kaur, who blasted an unbeaten 171 off 115.
However, due to an injury to her thumb, Harmanpreet has been ruled out of the first ODI. A call will soon be taken up by India on her availability in the second match of the series.
Four years on from that defeat, Australia are the favourites going into another Cricket World Cup and have been playing at levels of consistency unparalleled in the game’s history. Since that semi-final loss to India, they have only lost one ODI, winning in their past 24 matches in the format. It's in that same format that they will meet in Queensland this week, before Test and T20I legs.
"It's almost the great thing that happened, from the perspective of look at our team since then. We've changed the way that we've approached the game," Australia keeper Alyssa Healy was quoted by Cricinfo this month as she looked back on that match.
“There's been some amazing performances in all games played and lots of weird results, so it's no surprise to me that we've got this little bubbling of competitiveness and a little bit of a rivalry going.
“It's sort of unspoken but it's definitely there we know that they like to pump themselves up when they're playing Australia and they've proven that they come out and perform."
It was in early 2018 that Australia started their winning streak, fittingly beginning it against India. They clean-sweep the Indians 3-0 with Healy notching her maiden ODI century in the third match.
They met again later that year at the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, with India dealing Australia another defeat at an ICC event, skittling them for 119 in a 48-run win. This time, however, the defeat was not tournament ending for Australia, with Meg Lannings’ team going on to be crowned champions.
Two years later, the teams were pitted against one another in the opening match of the T20 World Cup 2020. In a preceding tri-series, they had each dealt each other one defeat each. While Australia went on to win the final of that tri-series, it did show that India had it in them to beat Australia in their own conditions.
And so it proved at the tournament proper where India flipped Australia’s campaign on its head with a 17-run victory at the Sydney Showground Stadium. In one of the tournament’s most memorable spells, Poonam Yadav took 4/19, removing Healy for 51 before running through Australia’s top and middle-order.
It was backs to the wall for Australia for the rest of the tournament but as champions do, they found a way to reach the Final where they met India in front of a packed MCG crowd.
This time around they finished on the right side of the leger, with Healy and Beth Mooney putting on a 115-run opening stand to power the Aussies to a total of 184/4 and an 85-run victory.
The two teams have not met since then, aside from a warm-up match last week.
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