The ICC T20 Women’s World Cup kicks off on the 21st February, 6 months ahead of the men’s edition. This will be the 7th edition of the premier T20 tournament with defending champions Australia hosting it. A total of 10 participants will be taking part in the tournament, with surprise entrants Thailand making their first appearance in a senior ICC tournament. This is a major milestone for the nation of Thailand as they are only the 11th team to be a part of a Women’s T20 World Cup, spanning over 7 editions.
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The format revolves around 2 initial group stages, followed up by a semi-final and final stage. Group A will be the most competitive one, as 3 of the 5 teams are ranked in the Top 4 of the ICC Women’s T20I rankings. Defending champions and 4-time winners Australia will be competing against India, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The Aussie, Kiwis and team India will leave little room for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to go ahead in this tournament, and so the 2 South Asian nations must deliver mammoth performances if they wish to progress in this tournament.
The second group consists of Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Thailand and England. Our bet is on England being led by Heather Knight to comfortably go through to the semi-final stage. The second should prove to be one that is hard fought for, as Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies will go neck and neck. 1 or 2 surprise performances from debutants Thailand could play a major role in who qualifies towards the next stage from this group.
Pakistan captain, Bismah Maroof mentioned on the PCB’s YouTube channel that she feels confident in the ability of her squad as they have assembled a cohesive mix of youth and experience, which she feels will be the X factor for the tournament.
Source: ESPN Cricinfo
Harmanpreet Kaur will also be one of the pivotal captains to lead her team from the front with her exciting batting ability. She along with Smriti Mandhana & the teenage sensation Jemimah Rodrigues line up to be one of the strongest T20 Women’s batting units. India’s batting will be once again the focus of their strength even for the women’s team.
With all that is said about the other teams, Australia will stay the favourites to win the tournament. They have home advantage, they are the defending champions, and they are the most decorated team in this tournament, so it would be no surprise if they come up on top. Led by Meg Lanning, the Aussie women will feel confident with one of the greatest women’s cricketer of all times, Ellyse Perry among their ranks. However, all these factors could add up to be points that build pressure against that team. Let’s see how well the Australians utilise these advantages and if they can win the crown for the 5th time.
Here are the predicted semi-finalists from the staff at World Class Willow. Australia and India from group A and England and Pakistan from group B. Our predicted star performers for the tournament are Megan Schutt (AUS), Suzie Bates (NZ), Smriti Mandhana (IND), Sophie Ecclestone (ENG), Javeria Khan (PAK), and Hayley Mathews (WI). Let’s hope we get a really exciting and engaging tournament from all teams involved, and we see new barriers are broken and higher benchmarks made in the format of women’s T20!
Feature image source: ICC