Australia uncovers what works in Bangladesh ahead of the T20 World Cup

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Ash Gardner has 11 wickets and Sophie Molineux 10 through a dominant white-ball series against Bangladesh that has provided more crucial insights than competition ahead of a return later this year for a shot at a fourth-straight T20 World Cup.

The Aussies have won five out of five games against the hosts in a massive muscle flex ahead of this year’s tournament and showed new-found depth, with leg-spinner Georgia Wareham smashing her first international half-century with the bat in Tuesday’s 58-run win in Dhaka.

It’s the first time Australia has played in Bangladesh, the teams having only ever faced each other in a single ODI and two T20s before scheduling the series to establish a significant baseline of experience in conditions unlike anything else around the world, even in other parts of the subcontinent.

Australia used 14 players through the three-match ODI series and 12 through the first two T20s, achieving comprehensive victories in all five games, with spin standing out as the weapon of choice with the ball.

Gardner and Molineux, who was chosen as the left-arm spin option for the tour ahead for former No.1 ranked bowler Jess Jonassen, took six wickets between them on Tuesday night to confirm spin as the likely weapon of choice at the World Cup.

The slow pitches made run scoring difficult in the ODI series, the home team failing to reach 100 in any game despite batting for upwards of 40 overs.

But through the opening two T20s, Australia’s power hitters have found the going much easier, smashing 127 off just 13 overs in game one and 8-168 in game two, courtesy of Wareham’s 57 off 30 balls coming in at No.3 in a rejigged line-up, with Grace Harris belting 47 from 34 opening the batting.

Harris said the idea of changing the batting line-up was “looking to the future”, a theme for the entire tour.

“It’s to give girls an opportunity to bat in these conditions,” she said.

“If anything did happen in a competition moving forward, if anyone got injured, the coaching staff may have to think about a reshuffle.

“Today I got the nod to open, and I was just happy to get the chance to bat. This tour, and no disrespect to Bangladesh, with how well we play in T20 cricket, I thought I would get a lot of pad rash.

“It might look like it’s easier, but the skillset you need to win games, and be clinical in these conditions, that’s the adjustment we need to make. No game is easy.

“It’s critical looking forward we play in conditions we might face. To play any games in the country, in the conditions … most of our squad have had time in the middle, and batted in the nets, so we feel well prepared for the World Cup.”

The only concern for the Aussies remains the form of Phoebe Litchfield. The 20-year-old opener has made just 19 runs in her four innings across the two formats, struggling to handle the conditions and possibly giving selectors cause for thought before the World Cup in September.