The cricketing world will descend on the West Indies in November for the first stand-alone Women’s T20 World Cup.
Australia is the most successful team in the tournament, winning the competition on three occasions (2010, 2012, 2014).
However, after falling short to the West Indies in the 2016 final, Australia will enter the tournament looking to reclaim the highest prize in T20 cricket.
“If you look back at 2016 when Australia lost the final against the West Indies, it was the opening pair from the West Indies that took the game from Australia,” said former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar.
“Australia played a really good game of cricket, but just didn’t get across the line, so for them it’s all about winning key moments.”
Australia will enter the tournament ranked number one in the world, and in form.
Meg Lanning’s side whitewashed India across three ODIs on the subcontinent in March, proceeding to take out a T20 Tri-Series victory over India and England.
“Based on the performances they’ve had recently over in India, Australia has a great chance of winning,” Sthalekar said.
“I think the Australian team is now starting to find the right formula with the batting order and the bowlers.
“And obviously spending time in India, where you expect the condition might be similar to the West Indies, hopefully puts them in good stead, but they’ve got a tough draw."
Lanning’s return to form at the back end of the Tri-Series in India following an injury lay-off proved promising for the skipper.
She hit four consecutive not-out scores, finishing with a devastating 88*, guiding Australia to a word record total of 209 for 4.
“Expect Meg Lanning to come back with a lot of runs,” Sthalekar said.
“She performed well at the back end of that India series and she’ll certainly stamp her authority on the tournament.
Megan Schutt was named as player of that series, taking nine wickets and climbing to top spot on the ICC T20 bowling rankings, while Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney contributed heavily at the top of the order.
“From a bowling perspective Megan Schutt keeps popping her head up. Along with Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney, I would put them up as the ones to watch out for.”
Also in its line-up, Australia possess the world's top ranked ODI batter and allrounder, Ellyse Perry, and ODI bowler Jess Jonassen
Sthalekar, who has been part of four World Cup winning teams across 50 over and T20 cricket, explained the importance of women’s cricket having a stand-alone tournament.
“The main thing to point out is it’s the first stand-alone world T20 event.”
“That’s going to be exciting for the females to have their own stage so to speak. It's hugely important.”
“They’ll be front and centre, the way the game is going and the way records are being broken, it means this is going to be an attractive form of cricket and for them to have centre stage to themselves, will again create more heroes and hopefully allow fans to fall in love with the players.”