Alyssa Healy has stoked the embers ahead of Australia’s highly anticipated series against India, saying there is an “unspoken rivalry” between the two nations. To get an idea of the rivalry, you’ve got to go back to 2017 when India knocked Australia out of the World Cup at the semi-final stage as Harmanpreet Kaur smashed an unbeaten 171 off 115.
Their imposing total of 4/281 proved too much, with Australia losing by 36 – a deficit that would have been far greater were it not for Alex Blackwell’s blistering 90 in a 76-run final wicket stand. The demoralizing exit saw Meg Lanning’s side go back to the drawing board and was the inspiration behind their future feats which culminated in last year’s incredible T20 World Cup final in front of a record 86,174 runs before the world shut down due to Covid.
On that glorious evening Healy (75 off 39), alongside opening partner Beth Mooney (78* off 54), put on 115 for the opening wicket to set up their crushing 85-run victory. As Healy recalled, she wished women’s sport could have capitalized on their moment in the sun. “I wish at the time the world hadn’t shut down a week after,” the Australian star wicket-keeper batsman said, speaking at the launch of the women’s summer of cricket host.
For the first time Down Under, the two nations will play a multi-format series that sees every match across the three formats of the game count towards the overall winner. It’s a brand new concept which India recently had experience with, with their series against England coming down to the final T20 match.
Last year’s final – the last time the two met in any form of cricket – has set the tone for a spicy series, which gets underway with the first of three one day internationals on September 21 in Mackay and is followed by a historic Test and wraps with a further three T20s. “It has, it’s no secret that the 2017 World Cup changed us as a group, changed the direction of the team as well,” Healy said. “It was no surprise that India did that to us.
“We’ve had these sneaky little battles over the last five or six years and there’ve been some amazing performances and lots of weird games, so there’s no surprise we’ve got this bubbling of competitiveness and a little bit of a rivalry going. “It’s sort of unspoken, but it’s definitely there. “We know they like to pump themselves up when they’re playing Australia and they’ve proven that they can come out and perform. “Obviously the 2017 World Cup is what it is but it’s almost a great thing that it happened from the perspective of, look at our team since then, we’ve changed the way we approach the game and we’ve been playing some great cricket since.”
While Australia is the favorite and will unleash some of their Generation Next players with experienced duo Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen missing, India will fancy their chances particularly on wickets that aren’t expected to have a lot of pace in them. In particular spinner, Poonam Yadav will be licking her lips to bamboozle some of Australia’s batsmen, with her 4-19 during the pool stage of the World Cup still fresh in the minds of the home side.
“She was great in the first game against Australia and I saw her finding the rhythm in the last two T20s we played against India, so hopefully she can do the same thing that she did in the first game,” the Indian opener Smriti Mandhana told media.