Zürcher Nachrichten - Aussie women taking 'low key' tilt at seventh World Cup

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Aussie women taking 'low key' tilt at seventh World Cup
Aussie women taking 'low key' tilt at seventh World Cup

Aussie women taking 'low key' tilt at seventh World Cup

Australia are downplaying their status as red-hot favourites at the Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, with coach Matthew Mott saying they cannot expect to cruise to a seventh title.

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Mott said any complacency among the Aussies was dispelled by a nine-wicket defeat in a warm-up match against the host nation this week, describing it as the "perfect tonic" for his players.

"It was a little kick in the backside at the right time to just remind us that any team in this tournament on their day have got players that can stand up and hurt you," he said.

While stung by the loss to New Zealand, who chased down an imposing target of 322, the Australians can justifiably regard it as a blip rather than a sign their campaign is in trouble.

They still enter the 12th edition of the one-day international tournament as six-time champions on a run of form that includes only three losses since the last World Cup in 2017.

This includes a world-record 26-match winning streak which only ended in September last year and a recent series win in the Women's Ashes over reigning World Cup champions England.

Mott said his players were well rested after completing 10 days of border isolation to enter New Zealand and they were keen to get into their tournament opener against England on Sunday.

"We've deliberately gone in low key into this tournament -– we had a big Ashes series, then quarantine and we gave the players a chance to freshen up," he said.

"I think that's going to just get us cherry ripe for March 5 and be able to hold that throughout the tournament."

- 'Even footing' -

Captain Meg Lanning attributed Australia's success to squad depth, pointing out how rising stars such as Tahlia McGrath and Darcie Brown contributed to the Ashes victory alongside veterans Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy.

"The biggest thing for us over the last few years is that we haven't relied on one or two players, we've had some really good depth in our squad," she said.

"You need a number of different players at times to step up and the depth we've got is something we're going to need at this World Cup."

Lanning predicted a high scoring tournament, saying the Twenty20 format had encouraged big hitters.

"Teams are willing to go a bit earlier and get to that 300 mark," she said, adding that the Australians were "confident" in their aggressive game style.

However, shocks can happen in the sudden-death environment of tournament knockouts, as Australia discovered to their cost when India beat them in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup.

"Every team starts on zero wins, it's an even footing -- what's happened in the previous couple of years is irrelevant," Lanning said.

The Aussie skipper even made a cheeky bid to claim underdog status against England, who her team have not lost to since 2017.

"England are the reigning champions, they hold the cup, so we're all chasing them," she said.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to come up against them in that first game to try to build up momentum throughout the tournament."

F.Carpenteri--NZN