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Oliver Caffrey

Aussies with an eye on T20 Cup defence

Newly appointed vice-captain Tahlia McGrath is making her mark on Australia's squad. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Australia will use their first tour of India in almost five years to tune up their new-look squad ahead of next year's Twenty20 World Cup defence.

Without Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes, Australia will face-off with India in a five-match series in Mumbai, starting on Saturday AEDT.

Lanning's extended leave of absence and the recent retirement of Haynes has created vacancies in Australia's top-order, with several players trying to work their way into the all-conquering XI.

Former Ireland international Kim Garth, teenage batting prodigy Phoebe Litchfield and Western Australia allrounder Heather Graham are all in contention to make their T20 debut.

When Australia head to South Africa in February, the squad could look quite different to the one that held aloft the T20 World Cup trophy at the MCG in March 2020 in front of 86,174 fans.

"It's important for us to come out here and play well in in India, we haven't been here (since February 2018)," Australia coach Shelley Nitschke said on Thursday.

"We also understand the big picture, that we've got a World Cup in February."

"We're here to win games of cricket and play our best in the subcontinent conditions as well as make sure that we're coming into February really well prepared."

Dashing keeper-batter Alyssa Healy will continue to captain the team in Lanning's absence, with breakout allrounder Tahlia McGrath appointed vice-captain.

McGrath has stamped herself as one of the best players in the world during the past year and recently led the Adelaide Strikers to the WBBL title.

"In the past, probably 'TMac' (McGrath) was one that sort of hasn't said a lot but seeing her now in a leadership position and starting to see her come out and have a bit more of an influence around the group is really good," Nitschke said.

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