<
>

Australia's T20 World Cup squad set for important Sydney scouting mission

Rachael Haynes at the Sydney Showground Stadium which will host the opening World Cup match Getty Images

Australia hope to gather some early intel ahead of the opening T20 Women's World Cup match against India next month as they get a taste for conditions at the Sydney Showground stadium which will host international cricket for the first time.

The squad joined up in Sydney on Sunday to begin the final stages of preparations for the tournament, and while the main focus over the next few weeks will be the tri-series involving India and England, which begins in Canberra next Friday, the warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI at the Showground on Monday carries extra significance beyond allowing players a chance to get back into T20 mode.

"That's what it's all about really, to get used to that ground," Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes said. "Particularly this year with the WBBL we didn't get to play any matches there like we have in the past so it will be a really good opportunity for our players just to adjust to conditions, I guess spend some time in the stadium, too, as it's a bit different fielding there. So no doubt we'll try a couple of things and work out how we can help our game under those conditions."

Being a Sydney Thunder player in the WBBL means Haynes does have more experience of the venue than others, but there is a feeling of not leaving any stone unturned as they prepare for the World Cup, especially with the importance of the first match against India in what is viewed as the tougher of the two groups.

"It's certainly different to other grounds and that's probably the unique thing about playing in Australia, that wherever you play there's something you need to adjust," Haynes said. "Showgrounds is no different, for us [the match] is a great opportunity to make sure we are really comfortable with how we need to play in those conditions."

The tri-series, which features matches in Canberra and Melbourne, will also be a chance to size up India under game situations. Their batting line-up was singled out by Australia coach Matthew Mott as being the most feared in T20 and they are one of the teams who could push the favourites in the World Cup.

Having talked as a squad already about embracing the expectations around the tournament - which hopes to break the world record for a crowd at a women's sports event for the final at the MCG on March 8 - Haynes said thoughts are turning to what lies ahead, but it also remains a balance.

"I'd be lying if I said people aren't thinking about the World Cup, I'm sure it's on lots of players' minds, but you can only do what's in front of you and play the game in front of you. The games against India and England will be really important in terms of shaping our preparation for what's to come. I'd like to think our team will take that opportunity to use it really well."

Australia will head to Canberra on Tuesday ahead of their first tri-series match against England on Saturday.