Pune-born Aussie Sthalekar ready for India challenge

Published: Wednesday, February 7, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Buoyed after being named Auatralia's Women's Cricketer of the Year, Pune-born all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar says she is looking forward to the challenge of returning to play against the country of birth in the upcoming quadrangular series also involving England and New Zealand.

Sthalekar, who was born in Pune in 1979 before migrating to Australia in 1983 after spells living in the United States of America and Kenya, will be in India for the second time as she was part of the Australian squad that won a seven-match ODI series 4-3 in 2004.

In that series, the right-hander scored 152 runs and took eight wickets with her off-spin and she is hoping for an equally impressive haul on this trip.

''I always enjoy touring India because of the challenge, my connection to India and playing against friends in the Indian side,'' she said.

The quadrangular series will run between Feb 21 and Mar 5 with each team playing the three other line-ups twice each, and Sthalekar feels it represents an ideal tune-up for the 2009 ICC Women's World Cup in Australia.

''We want to play as many international matches as we can. Thats the best way for us to prepare for the World Cup in 2009 which is our major focus,'' she said.

Given the calibre of opposition, Sthalekar, who has played five Tests and 54 one-day internationals, expects the matches will involve plenty of tough cricket.

''India on home soil is always a tough proposition. Their record at home is impressive and because the conditions faced there are different for the rest of us, it will be extremely hard,'' she explained.

Australia's first match of the tournament is against New Zealand on Feb 21.


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