With the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 just a week away, excitement is high for players from both the Australia and India sides as they get ready to face each other in the tournament opener at the Sydney Showground on 21 February.
Matches between the two sides have been keenly contested. The teams are coming off the tri-nation T20I series final on Wednesday, which Australia won after Jess Jonassen ran through India's middle order to hand her side an 11-run victory. But, they both had one win each in their contests in the round robin stage; and, in the last edition of the World Cup in the West Indies, India had got the better of Australia in the group stage.
"I think it will be one of the most important games in my career," said star India batter Jemimah Rodrigues. "Playing a World Cup ... the first match in Australia and for me first time playing [a World Cup] in Australia. Nothing is more exciting then India in Australia, so it will be a match we all will be keen to play and just excited, can't wait to get to the first match."
"We're really excited about the opening match against Australia," added India bowler Shikha Pandey. "It's going to be a challenge, obviously, it's the World Cup, so the best teams are going to play against each other."
The two teams have some of the best batters in their line-ups. India's Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur have proven records against Australia, while Australia's Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy have enjoyed excellent numbers in the past year especially.
Australia fast bowler Megan Schutt was all praise for opener Mandhana, who top-scored in the tri-series with 216 runs at an average of 43.20. "Smriti Mandhana is on another level," Schutt said. "She's put me over the fence countless times both on international and WBBL level unfortunately. She's got the x-factor, she's a left-hander, can hit to all the areas of the field."
Schutt was also wary of skipper Harmanpreet, who struck a blazing 171* in the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 semi-final against Australia.
"[They] have someone like Harmanpreet Kaur come out, who can just swing it like no other really, and kind of put you out of the stadium. And she's obviously, kind of climbed to fame in the World Cup with a huge innings there and I think since then she's also proved that she can do in other matches."