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Ash Gardner gearing up for a move up the order

Allrounder likely to bat No.4 in Rachael Haynes' absence while Tayla Vlaeminck is set to be unleashed in T20Is against India

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Ashleigh Gardner drives down the ground  •  Getty Images

Ashleigh Gardner drives down the ground  •  Getty Images

Power-hitting allrounder Ashleigh Gardner is preparing for a promotion in the batting order in the absence of Rachael Haynes as Australia hope to wrest back the momentum in the T20 internationals against India starting on Thursday on the Gold Coast.
Coming off her maiden Test half-century during Australia's draw with India at Carrara, Gardner is likely to slide up the order having not batted higher than No.5 in Australia's previous six T20Is.
She batted behind Haynes in all six matches against New Zealand last summer with Australia's hierarchy preferring to use left-hand right-hand combinations as much as possible during both series. But with the veteran absent due to a hamstring injury, Gardner knows a move up the order is possible.
"I guess that's just something I've got to be aware of." Gardner said. "Obviously with Rach's experience, she's a big loss for us. She accesses areas different to everyone else and she obviously plays a very different game to what I do.
"I know that top four have been pretty flexible over the past 12-18 months. We obviously really like to utilise the left and right combos and now with Rach missing obviously there's a few more right-handers in that top six now which I don't think is a bad thing with obviously me being right-handed, it hopefully pushes me up the order, but I'll bat wherever the team needs me. I'm pretty clear on what my role is in T20 cricket."
Australia's only other left-handed specialist batter in the squad is the uncapped Georgia Redmayne. Nicola Carey and Sophie Molineux do bat in the top order for their WBBL sides but are seen as bowling allrounders at international level. Most of Redmayne's recent success in Australian domestic cricket has come opening the batting.
"Georgia has obviously earned her spot to come into this Australian side," Gardner said. "She's had some really good Big Bashes. She's played some really good cricket for Queensland as well. She also accesses different areas to a lot of the other top four, which obviously like to go down the ground. She accesses behind the wicket a lot. So completely different to what myself, Midge [Alyssa Healy], Moons [Beth Mooney] do. It'll be interesting to see if she does get the nod for the T20s but I know whoever replaces Rachael in that batting order is going to do a fantastic job."
Australia are poised to welcome back tearaway quick Tayla Vlaeminck after she was held out of the ODIs and the Test match. Vlaeminck looks set to play in two of the three matches in order to manage her workload.
"I think Tay is the quickest bowler in the world and someone that we love having in our arsenal," Gardner said.
"It's just exciting to have her back in the set-up, fit and raring to go. I know she's been terrorising all of our batters in the nets and people haven't enjoyed facing her. But just knowing the impact she can have against this Indian side is really exciting. To potentially have Darcie Brown and Tayla Vlaeminck bowling from both ends is a pretty awesome sight."
Australia lead the multi-format series 6-4 on points but have struggled since winning the opening two ODIs. They were thoroughly outplayed in the third ODI and the Test match. But Gardner believes the shift to T20 cricket will help the hosts close out the series.
"T20 is one of our best formats," Gardner said. "We've won the past two T20 World Cups. So it just shows how good we are at that format.
"We probably haven't had the momentum go our way over the past few games but just taking confidence in what we've been able to achieve in the past in T20 formats is I guess positives that we can take out of it and I think everyone is going to be really excited to play some fast-paced cricket."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo