Birmingham, July 27: Gold-medal favourites, the Australian women’s cricket team is likely to give the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on July 28 a miss and instead concentrate on their opening Group A match against India, which will be played barely 12 hours after it finishes.
With the tough game against India on July 29, Meg Lanning’s side doesn’t want to take a chance. Also, with the India team reporting two Covid-19 cases, including all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar, the Australian team wants to take utmost precaution against the virus.
A report in cricket.com.au on Wednesday, quoting sources, said that Vastrakar and reserve batter Sabbhineni Meghana have been left behind in Bengaluru to serve their isolation period as the rest of the squad left for Birmingham earlier this week.
The duo will take a fitness test before they can join the side, which makes them doubtful for the opening fixture against Australia on July 29.
T20 women’s cricket is making its Commonwealth Games debut at Birmingham, and it will be only the second time the sport has been included in the event, following the men’s 50-overs tournament in the 1998 Games held in Kuala Lumpur.
Australia’s match against India at Edgbaston is set to attract a huge crowd and it is also the toughest fixture for Australia in the Pool, which also has Barbados and Pakistan.
Australian coach Shelley Nitschke said on the eve of the opening ceremony that competing in the Commonwealth Games for the first time is a big motivation.
“It’s big motivation. It’s the first one, it’s something new for us. We’re really keen to put our best foot forward and hopefully add a gold medal to the mix. It’s important and the girls are excited about it.
“They’re all really honoured to be part of the first T20 women’s (tournament) at the Commonwealth Games. It’s got a special place. We play World Cups and Ashes and things like that, which are very important, but this is something a little bit different, to be involved in the first one. It has a lot of significance for us,” Nitschke added.
About India, Nitschke said, “We expect a decent crowd there on Friday against India … but in effect, our preparation stays reasonably similar to what we do in the big tournaments. I’m really confident the group is ready to go … they’re seasoned campaigners.”