Mumbai, March 13 (IANS) Meg Lanning’s Australia have won three out of four Women’s World Twenty20 tournaments to date and it is no surprise that the No.1 ranked T20I side in the world will start this competition as favourites.
England are the only other side to have won the tournament when they clinched the inaugural edition in 2009 in their backyard. Charlotte Edward’s side is closely behind Australia in the women’s team rankings, having finished as runners-up in 2012 and 2014.
Hosts India come into this tournament following a home series win against Sri Lanka. Mithali Raj’s girls will be keen to fully utilise familiar conditions and pull off a few surprise results against higher ranked Australia, England and third-ranked New Zealand.
The 10 women’s sides are divided into two pools with Group A featuring Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka and Group B including India, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies. The top two sides from each group will progress to the semi-finals.
Based on the rankings, Australia and New Zealand are expected to progress to the semis from Group A while England are likely to top Group B. This means fight for the second place in this group is between India and the West Indies.
The matches will begin on March 15 when hosts India take on Bangladesh in the afternoon at Bengaluru whilst New Zealand will play Sri Lanka in an evening in New Delhi.
The fifth edition of the tournament will feature 10 sides with eight from the ICC Women’s Championship joined by Bangladesh and Ireland, which claimed the top two positions in the qualifiers.
A total of 23 matches will be played including the semis and the final which will be played before the men’s knockout matches on the same day and at the same venues.
In the team rankings, 59 points separate top-ranked Australia (129) from eighth-ranked Sri Lanka (70). England are second on 122 points, followed by New Zealand (114), India (111), West Indies (101), South Africa (94), Pakistan (80), Sri Lanka (70), Bangladesh (47) and Ireland (31).
Australia have an impressive record in the tournament, having won 15 out of 20 matches to date. Nevertheless, they are coming into this tournament having lost T20I series’ to India and New Zealand this year.
Lanning is the No.1 ranked batter in women’s T20Is but she is the only Australian to feature inside the top-10. Alex Blackwell, Ellyse Perry and Elyse Villani are 14th, 15th and 16th respectively while Alyssa Healy is 18th.
Amongst the bowlers, third-ranked Perry is Australia’s highest-ranked bowler with Jess Jonassen (ninth), Rene Farrell (11th), and Megan Schutt (18th) the others to figure in top-20.
England enter the tournament at the back of a 2-1 series win against South Africa. Second-ranked Sarah Taylor is her side’s highest-ranked batter while captain Edwards is sitting in fourth. Amongst the bowlers, England have possession of the top two spots, thanks to Anya Shrubsole and Danielle Hazell.
New Zealand have played 19 matches in World T20 and have lost just five. Suzie Bates’ side will start the competition believing that they have a great shot at winning this year. And giving a boost to their ambition is the fact that a large number of their players feature prominently in the charts led by Bates (second) and Sophie Devine (10th) in the batting table and Morna Nielsen (fourth) is the bowling category.
Hosts India, who got the better of Australia in Australia at the end of January, will be confident of a good performance. Middle-order batter and captain Mithali Raj is sitting in fifth spot while fast bowler Jhulan Goswami is 12th.
Among the all-rounders, Australia’s Perry is in top position, followed by Dane van Niekerk of South Africa and Salma Khatun of Bangladesh. Bismah Maroof of Pakistan is seventh while Sri Lanka captain Shashikala Siriwardene is ninth.
The leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in World T20 are Edwards with 566 runs and Perry with 24 wickets.
Australia will go in as the top-ranked side in the tournament but seven of the eight ICC Women’s Championship teams have been in action earlier this year and have shown great fight and potential proving that this tournament will have a number of serious contenders.