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A little blemish in Meg-astar's glittering career

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Last updated on 26 Mar 2023 | 05:31 PM
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A little blemish in Meg-astar's glittering career

Seven world titles, and it seldom happens that the Aussie superstar is on the losing side in the summit clash in a decade-long career

Let's f*****g go!!

If you have followed the journey of Meg Lanning for the past decade, you would probably understand that this ain't the nerves the Australian skipper would feel ahead of the summit clash of the T20 World Cup against South Africa. 

And Megan Schutt can attest to the same, as the speedster has never seen this side of Lanning in her time with the national side. 

So, what has changed so much in the last year that makes Lanning not only the best captain in the sport but also a lot more vocal with her emotions? 

Well, in simple terms: Time away from the sport and a job at a local cafe. 

A week after leading the Australian women's team to a gold medal in the inaugural edition of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Lanning announced her decision to step aside from the game and focus on her mental health. 

A decision that stunned the cricketing fraternity across the globe, with rumor mills working overtime to possibly predict a premature retirement of the cricketer. 

The 31-year-old missed the tour to India that witnessed women's cricket breach new heights with stadiums packed to capacity and Australia slumping to their first defeat in a year. 

It was certain Australia were missing the calming influence on the team and their premier batter. 

And after months of wilderness, Christmas arrived early for all the fans of the sport when the board announced Lanning's return to top-flight cricket in a home series against Pakistan. 

"I still wanted to play cricket and loved the game, just needed some time to be able to feel normal, have a bit less structure around what I was doing," the Singapore-born player said ahead of her much-awaited comeback. 

The right-handed batter worked at a local cafe to divert her time away from the game and gain a different perspective on life in general. 

"Just having different conversations with the customers and a little bit of freedom, a little less structure, going with the flow a little more, not getting too worried about things," she said were the biggest takeaways from her six weeks at a cafe. 

Two months after her return to international cricket, Lanning was at the helm of yet another Aussie dominance at the T20 World Cup in South Africa. 

While they were practically not challenged through the group stages, they were tested to the absolute hilt by Harmanpreet Kaur and her young Indian contingent in the semi-final. 

Yet again, Lanning and her yellow army triumphed over the Women in Blue and broke a million hearts. 

While Lanning's emotions were pretty much under check in the high-voltage clash against India, her pre-match pep talk against the Proteas summed up her new and rejigged avatar that the world was yet to witness. 

And if there were any doubts, it was all put to rest in the second over of the WPL final when a debatable call surrounding Shafali Verma's dismissal fired up the legend. 

Or even her run-out that rattled her to the extent of swearing words whilst covering her face on her way back to the pavilion. 

Well, a proper role model for the sport. 

*****

There is a certain aura surrounding Lanning whenever she walks onto the field. The intent with every step she takes on the ground as she leads the Aussie contingent to world dominance every single time. 

"Ricky Ponting was my hero growing up. I love the way he batted and took the game on a lot, and I would mimic him in the backyard," she said in a conversation with ESPNcricinfo. 

For someone idolizing Ricky Ponting from a tender age to now being an inspiration to millions of kids across the globe and winning trophies for fun herself. Lanning has touched lives beyond the 22-yards. 

Seven world titles! Oh yes, read that again! 

Five as a captain, the most decorated skipper in the history of the game!

Is there anything left for Meg Lanning to achieve?

Oh well, hang on! 

A Women's Premier League title⌛ 

*****

A couple of days after lighting up Newlands with a scintillating performance, it was business as usual for Lanning as she joined the Delhi Capitals ahead of the inaugural edition of the tournament. 

"The WPL is massive for the women's game, and this tournament will be a great platform for young girls coming up the ranks. The opportunity for young girls to watch their favourite players in action on TV is very crucial for the development of the game," she said ahead of Delhi's first match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. 

With a blistering 72 off 43 deliveries to kickstart her campaign in the opening clash followed by another 70 off 42 against the UP Warriorz, Lanning was at the forefront of every win for the Capitals this season. 

Under her astute leadership, Delhi recorded emphatic wins in the first two games before facing a stutter against the Mumbai Indians.

"I take a bit of the blame because I took a few balls at the start and then could not capitalise," she said in the post-match presentation. 

In a game where the skipper scored 43 runs out of the team's total of 105 runs, her words were a sign of a great leader taking ownership of leading a young side in a pressure tournament. 

While Delhi were ruthless through the course of the extravaganza and secured their place in the summit clash by topping the ladder board, they knew they were up against a formidable Mumbai outfit in the finale. 

Meg Lanning vs Harmanpreet Kaur 

We have seen this before, and Indian fans have shed a couple of tears every time. 

But for the sport and the tournament, it cannot get bigger and better than this!!

All eyes were on Brabourne Stadium as Mumbai Indians, and Delhi Capitals set foot at the venue on the cusp of history. 

While most people believed the game was fairly one-sided, with the Mumbai outfit wreaking havoc in the first innings and restricting the Capitals to 131 runs, Lanning had other ideas. 

The pep talk in the huddle before the Capitals stepped onto the field, the team found not one but two breakthroughs in under four overs to derail Mumbai. 

However, the experience of Nat Sciver-Brunt and Harmanpreet Kaur ensured the most successful franchise in India's franchise T20 circuit etch their name in the record books in a nail-biting final. 

As Sciver-Brunt scored the winning runs and the Mumbai Indians jumped out to rally around the two batters, Lanning gradually faded away from the limelight to soak up her first defeat as a captain in the summit clash after numerous years. 

It seldom happens that this Aussie superstar is on the losing side and tonight was one of those rare days in her glittering career that she would want to forget soon. 

But, not all fairytales have a happy ending, and the world of cricket is blessed to witness Lanning enjoying the sport and playing a significant role in its growth and development. 

Because of her, every young kid has a hero from women's sport.

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