The resurgent ACT Meteors have been dealt a blow in their quest to topple the defending champions, losing New Zealand representative Sian Ruck for this weekend's Women's National Cricket League matches against Victoria Spirit.
Ruck suffered a hamstring strain in Sydney grade cricket at the weekend, ruling the fast bowler out of the two Twenty20s and a 50-over encounter at Manuka Oval.
Ruck will also miss the next round against Tasmania Roar from November 23 to November 25 because of international commitments.
She is due to make her Meteors return when they host Queensland Fire next month.
Her absence places more responsibility on fellow quicks Zoe Cooke and Alison Parkin.
Left-arm orthodox spinner Sam Bates and middle-order batter Wui Kwan Wong have been included in the 13-player squad, while fast bowler Aimee Harris missed out.
Meteors coach Andrew Dawson encouraged Cooke and Parkin to do their best bowling on what is tipped to be a spin-friendly pitch.
''It gives Zoe and Alison an opportunity to show what they can do in a competitive environment and how they bowl under pressure,'' Dawson said.
''Sian's consistency allows [captain Kris Britt] to set particular fields to particular batters and execute the plan.''
The Meteors are confident after securing a clean sweep against the South Australian Scorpions a fortnight ago in Adelaide.
Their chances of upsetting the Spirit have been boosted, with the visitors set to be without Australian Southern Stars duo Jess Cameron and Julie Hunter.
Dawson hopes the addition of an extra batter will be enough to stun the reigning Twenty20 title holders.
''The top four have done a good job, it's just with our team structure in Adelaide we had one fast bowler too many,'' he said.
''Because of losing Rucky, we've decided to go an extra bat, which gives us more depth.
''It also allows the girls more freedom to play their shots and chase a few more runs.''