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Ian Chadband

Lanning back in the WPL - with Sutherland her key ally

Test double-centurion Annabel Sutherland looks set to be a major star for Delhi Capitals in the WPL. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Meg Lanning is back in India to win the one major piece of cricketing silverware missing from her matchless career - and the Australian legend feels she has a special weapon to help her achieve that ambition of annexing the Women's Premier League.

Lanning, who called time on her glorious international career in November after nearly 13 years leading Australia to unprecedented glory, fancies there's still time to land women's cricket's most lucrative new bauble as she leads Delhi Capitals into action in Friday's opener in the league's second edition.

Last year, the 31-year-old came close to lifting the inaugural crown, only for her side to get beaten by Mumbai Indians in the final, but Lanning, who had to settle for the personal accolade of the orange cap as the tournament's top run getter, has good reason to believe she can go one better this time around.

How have the five teams prepped up for #TATAWPL Season 2 ❓

It's time to hear from the Captains!

Stay tuned till the end to watch them make some decisive picks! 😃🙌


— Women's Premier League (WPL) (@wplt20) February 22, 2024

Her optimism stems largely in the Capitals' signing of her 22-year-old compatriot Annabel Sutherland, the flourishing allrounder who's fresh from becoming a double-centurion in the recent Test thrashing of South Africa.

"She's really matured on and off the field in the past 12 months to become a really important part of any team that she plays in," said Lanning on Thursday, as she prepared for a rematch of last year's final against Harmanpreet Kaur's champions, Mumbai, in Bengaluru.

"For us, Annabel brings some real power with the bat and can play multiple roles depending on game situation.

"One of the biggest improvements in her game has been bowling and her ability to execute under pressure in the back end of the T20 innings, when it can be difficult as batters are going pretty hard."

Sutherland was snapped up for $364,000 by the Capitals in the WPL's December auction, the joint-highest price paid out for any player for this year's event while making her the second biggest Australian signing after Ash Gardner went to Gujarat last year.

After Sutherland was released by Gujarat after last year's event, her signing has only enhanced the Australian flavour to Lanning's Delhi side, with Laura Harris and Jess Jonassen retained from the 2023 squad.

But then, the best Australians remain in demand throughout the league again, especially in the leadership stakes, with Alyssa Healy captaining UP Warriorz again and Beth Mooney taking the reins of Gujarat after injury in the first match ruined her chance in 2023.

Mooney's team now not only features Gardner but young batting star Phoebe Litchfield, who could form a devastating opening partnership with her 30-year-old captain.

Lanning, who led Australia to five World Cup wins, is convinced the league is a game-changer in terms of transforming the quality of women's cricket.

"And the event's only going to get bigger every year," she said. "There are a lot of eyes on you, and for the Indian players in particular, it really gives them an opportunity to put their names up there."


Delhi Capitals: Meg Lanning (capt), Annabel Sutherland, Laura Harris, Jess Jonassen

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Ellyse Perry, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham

UP Warriorz: Alyssa Healy (capt), Tahlia McGrath, Grace Harris

Gujarat Giants: Beth Mooney (capt), Phoebe Litchfield, Ash Gardner.

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