Australia women are the defending champions of ICC World T20 2016 © Getty Images
Australia women are the defending champions of ICC World T20 2016 © Getty Images

While the Australian men’s cricket team is yet to have their hands on the eluded trophy, their countrywomen already have three of those in their cabinet. Yes, the ICC World T20 trophy. The first edition of Women’s World T20 was played in 2009 with hosts England winning that tournament after beating New Zealand in the final. England knocked out the Australian team then led by Karen Rolton in the semi-final. Although Australia failed to reach the final, the most runs of the tournament came from the bat of Australia’s Aimee Watkins, 200 runs from five matches at an average of 66.66 with her highest total being an unbeaten knock of 89. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs South Africa, Match 6 of ICC Women’s World T20 at Nagpur

Interestingly, Alex Blackwell is the vice-captain of the current Australian Women’s squad that is going to begin their campaign of ICC Women’s World T20 2016 from March 18, taking on South Africa at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur. Australian Women’s current side includes the likes of Ellyse Perry, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Sarah Coyte and others led by Meg Lanning, who is aiming to become the first women cricketer to win the ICC World T20’s trophy for a second time as the national skipper.

Lanning stands fifth on the table of most runs scored in Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) with 1,655 runs from 61 matches at an excellent strike rate of 117.87. The top two run-scorers being from England, it will be interesting to watch former champions England face Australia in the World T20. While Australia Women are in Group A along with Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka, both Australia and England women have to qualify for the next stage in order to increase chances to face each other at some point in this tournament.

After Lanning, it is their vice-captain Alex with most T20I runs, 1195 runs off 85 matches. Lanning has played 13 innings less and has more runs which shows what an impact player she has been for Australia since her debut in 2010. Lanning was the top-scorer for Australia in the final of ICC Women’s World T20 2014 with 44 off 30 which set the tone of their chase of 106 after openers Jess Jonassen and Elyse Villani were dismissed early.

Ellyse Perry also had made a crucial contribution with 31 off 32 that ensured Australian women crossed the line successfully. Ellyse has been Australia’s highest wicket-taker since 2008 with 73 scalps from 75 matches. The all-rounder has been in some terrific form of late: she finished as the third highest run scorer in the T20I home series against India with 78 off three innings. She was the joint highest wicket-taker with India’s Jhulan Goswami and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. When India and Australia played the One-Day International (ODI), she led the bowling department with nine wickets from three matches.

Ellyse is easily the important player in the current squad of Australia women. After India won the historic T20I series Down Under, it was the 25-year-old’s sheer dominance with both bat and ball that outclassed India outright in the ODIs. She went on to continue her good show even when Australia toured neighbours New Zealand. Although, Australia lost the T20I series, she was anyway finished as the top wicket-taker of that tour. She was also the highest run-scorer for Australia during that tour with 115 runs from three matches.

The Australian men’s side have a record five ICC Cricket World Cup wins and contradicting to their dominance in the 50-over format, Steven Smith and Co have managed just one final of the World T20 so far since the first edition of World T20 for men happened in 2007. Meanwhile, Meg Lanning’s team will walk into the World T20 with aim of becoming the most successful women’s team in the shortest format.

Australia women: Meg Lanning(c), Alex Blackwell(vc), Kristen Beams, Nicola Carey Lauren Cheatle, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Alyssa Healy(wk), Jess Jonassen Beth Mooney, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani

(Sakshi Gupta, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy.” Her Twitter handle is @sakshi2929)