Aussies lose home advantage in T20 opener

India's cricket fans are expected to be out in force for the World Cup opener against Australia.
India's cricket fans are expected to be out in force for the World Cup opener against Australia.

Australia concede they have lost a proper home-ground advantage for the good of the sport in Friday night's Twenty20 World Cup opener against India.

The Australians will play their maiden top-flight match at the Sydney Showground on Friday, a venue which has never hosted a men's or women's international.

Officials remain hopeful of a sellout at the Sydney Showground, where at least half of the seats are expected to be snapped up by those dressed in blue.

But it's on the pitch Australia have given up a bigger advantage.

The Australians have never lost a Twenty20 match at their more traditional home in the harbour city of North Sydney Oval, from nine starts.

Several of their players are also far more familiar with the SCG, as home of the Sydney Sixers.

But ICC officials have chose to go for the medium-sized Showground which holds 18,000 as opposed to 12,000 at North Sydney and 48,000 at the SCG.

"I guess there is a little bit of unknown about this ground so we start on a level pegging with India in that regard," Australia captain Meg Lanning said.

"But I think for the good of the tournament, create a great atmosphere and get the crowds along it's a really good move.

"We've known about it for a while and have been looking forward to playing out here.

"It's a great stadium, hopefully the crowd comes and supports because that's what it's all about."

Australia at least played one warm-up at match at the ground last month, against a Cricket Australia XI.

Meanwhile they expect it to be filled with swathes of blue, with some bays already sold out to Indian supporters with a large contingent in Sydney.

"That's something we've spoken about," Lanning said.

"It's a great thing for the game. We are expecting big crowd but also a lot of support for India.

"It's just something we'll have to get used to, at the end of the day you've just got to focus on what you do in the middle.

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur also said her side hoped to have the advantage of a large Indian crowd.

"We all know that Indian fans love cricket, and wherever it is happening, they love to go and watch," Kaur said.

"That's what we are expecting in this game. We love when India fans come and support us and that is a big positive sign for us."

Australian Associated Press