Colombo: England became the second team to qualify for the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 with a 122-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first match of their ICC Women's Championship (IWC) series here on Saturday.
The win took next year's ICC Women's World Cup hosts to 25 points from 19 matches on the points table. Australia have already won the IWC title with 30 points from 18 matches while West Indies are close to qualifying with 22 points from 19 matches.
West Indies lost their opening match to India on Thursday and are due to play the next match on Sunday in what is a busy IWC schedule stretching to 23 November.
The top four sides from the IWC gain direct qualification to the World Cup while the bottom four sides will have to qualify through the 10-team ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017 to be held here in February.
New Zealand have a good chance of qualifying as they need to win two of their three matches against lower-placed Pakistan in a home series. South Africa have an outside chance, since they will have to defeat World champions Australia and also hope for other favourable results.
England captain Heather Knight was excited at the prospect of playing the World Cup in home conditions. "It's a brilliant feeling to have secured automatic qualification for the ICC Women's World Cup in England next summer. We have the best fans in the world, so to get the opportunity to play in a World Cup on home soil is really exciting, and something that we are all already looking forward to," she said.
"Playing in that first round of the ICC Women's Championship against India in 2014 now feels like a very long time ago. We have grown and developed so much as a squad since then, especially in the last 10 months or so, and we are learning all the time. How we played against Pakistan this summer, followed-up by the hard fought victory in the Caribbean, is testament to the work that the players are putting in right now," she said.
Knight said her team is aiming to maintain the momentum in the coming months. "We are still a young team, and there will continue to be the odd bump as we move forwards, but this is a really exciting time for us as a group. Our main focus now is to stay in the moment and make sure that we finish the year on a high out here in Colombo," she added.
"There's still a lot of hard work to come over the next eight months and a lot of cricket to be played, but I think every cricketer grows up dreaming of playing in a World Cup final at Lord's, and by winning today, that dream has come one step closer for us," Knight said.
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Updated Date: Nov 13, 2016 14:12:07 IST