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October 27, 2008
Australia host India for five ODIs and one Twenty20 as both teams prepare for the World Cup in March. The last time India were here they lost every match of the series; they repeated the feat in England earlier this year. Though Australia have fared better, they have not played since March. While they lost the Ashes to England, they levelled the ODI series 1-1.
India have made significant changes to the squad that toured England, replacing captain Mithali Raj, who had led the side since the World Cup in 2005, with vice-captain Jhulan Goswami and bringing back middle-order batsman Anjum Chopra and offspinner Nooshin Al Khadeer. Australia will be trying out their young fast bowlers - Ellyse Perry, Delissa Kimmince and Lauren Ebsary - in the series.
Bowling: India's opening bowlers Goswami and Rumeli Dhar - with a combined haul of 138 wickets from 143 ODIs - are known to pick up early wickets and, in conditions favouring fast bowling, they are likely to trouble Australia's top order. Australia's attack - Emma Sampson and Perry - is less experienced with 40 wickets in 33 ODIs - but will gain from the home advantage. It will be interesting to see if Perry clocks faster than Goswami, currently the fastest on the women's circuit.
Rankings: The ICC women's player rankings were introduced just before the series. The race to beat team-mates and opposition on the rankings table will be a sideshow to the series. Both teams have two players in the top five batsmen and bowlers' lists. Raj and Lisa Sthalekar are the No. 2 and No. 3 batsmen while Goswami and Shelley Nitschke are first and third in the bowlers' rankings. Sthalekar and Nitschke also feature in the allrounders table.
Venues: India will get the chance to play in two grounds that will host World Cup games next year. They will play two matches at the Manuka Oval in Canberra and one at the North Sydney Oval, which will host the World Cup final.
Watch out for:
Anjum Chopra: Back in the Indian side after a year and a half, Chopra will be keen to cement her place and go on to play her fourth World Cup. She only scored 51 in three domestic Challenger matches but aggregated twice of that in the previous tour to Australia in 2006.
Alex Blackwell: In the nine matches she has opened for Australia this year, Blackwell made three half-centuries and a century. She could strike a blow to India's opening attack and take Australia to competitive totals in the five ODIs.
Seema Pujare: The hard Australian pitches do not favour spin but based on her performance in the two tour games, where she picked up seven wickets, Pujare could be a threat to Australia's attacking batsmen.
"They [India] didn't play at their best in their last series against England. Australia hasn't played any international cricket for a few months, so it will help measure where we are at."
Alex Blackwell expects an balanced contest.
"This trip will act as good preparation for everyone since it is this team, more or less, that will play in the World Cup there next year."
Jhulan Goswami hopes to warm up for the big one next year.
October 28 - Only Twenty20, Hurstville Oval, Sydney
October 31 - 1st ODI, Hurstville Oval, Sydney
November 1 - 2nd ODI, SCG
November 5 - 3rd ODI, North Sydney Oval
November 8 - 4th ODI, Manuka Oval, Canberra
November 9 - 5th ODI, Manuka Oval, Canberra
Squads:Australia: Karen Rolton (capt), Alex Blackwell, Kate Blackwell, Leonie Coleman, Sarah Edwards, Jodie Edwards (wk), Delissa Kimmince, Shelley Nitschke, Ellyse Perry, Kirsten Pike, Leah Poulton, Emma Sampson, Lisa Sthalekar.
India: Jhulan Goswami (capt), Rumeli Dhar, Nooshin Al Khadeer, Anjum Chopra, Anagha Deshpande, Thirush Kamini, Reema Malhotra, Sulakshana Naik (wk), Snehal Pradhan, Seema Pujare, Mithali Raj, Priyanka Roy, Amita Sharma, Jaya Sharma, Gouher Sultana.
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