ICC Women's World Cup 2017: Australia, New Zealand strong favourites, but India can spring a surprise
India have had good preparation for this tournament, winning the last two tournaments they played, although neither featured a team from the top four.
The ICC Women’s World Cup (ODI) gets underway on Saturday in England. Got questions? Worry not. Firstpost have got you covered. Here’s all you need to know about the tournament.
This is the 11th edition of the women’s World Cup. The first was also held in England in 1973, two years before the men conducted their World Cup. Australia have won a whopping seven World Cups so far, England two, and New Zealand one.
India’s best show has been making the finals of the tournament in 2005. They lost to Australia by 98 runs. They finished third in 2009, and have been in the top four of every edition except 2013.
Mithali Raj, India’s captain, is playing her fifth World Cup. Jhulan Goswami,India’s pace spearhead, is playing her fourth. Both players are 34 years old, and this could be the last edition they participate in.
This World Cup features the top eight teams and will be played in a round robin format, with each team playing each other once, a total of 31 games. The top four sides will play the semi finals.
The league games will be played at four venues, Derby, Leicester, Taunton and Bristol, while the final will be played at Lord’s.
This will also be the most televised World Cup ever, with every match being live streamed, and 10 games, including the semi finals and final, on TV. India’s opening game against host England on Saturday is one of these.
This World Cup is a culmination of the first ICC Women’s Championship (ICCWC), essentially a Future Tours Program for women’s cricket. Under the ICCWC, all eight teams had to play one ODI bilateral series (three ODIs) against each other over the four year World Cup Cycle (2013-2017), with points awarded for each game. The top four teams earned direct qualification to the World Cup. The bottom four teams (including India) had to play a Qualifier to secure their berths (which India won). The ICCWC has been lauded for providing all teams an equal minimum number of matches, and providing context to bilateral series. There have been calls for a similar system to be adopted in men’s cricket.
This will be the first ever instance where DRS and Spidercam will be used in women’s internationals.
What’s at stake:
Besides a big shiny trophy and bragging rights for four years you mean?
This is the third edition of the Women’s World Cup that is being conducted by the ICC after they took over the running of the women’s game in 2006. The prize money for the 2017 edition has been raised to a record high. It now stands at 2 million, more than 10 times the amount for the 2013 edition.
Teams to look out for:
Watch out for antipodean neighbours Australia and New Zealand, as they go into the competition as the strongest teams in the tournament. Hosts England cannot be discounted, and India go into the World Cup with a 16-match winning streak in their last 18 ODIs.
Here’s a quick look at all teams participating and players to watch:
Australia have blooded some younger players in the year leading up to the tournament, like leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington and all-rounder Ashleigh Gardener. But expect some familiar names to steal the show. The all round talents of Ellyse Perry and the batting dominance of captain Meg Lanning could shape Australia’s search for back to back titles.
New Zealand have played 4 finals, and won just the one trophy. Suzie Bates’ side will be keen to nudge that ratio in their favour. The pace of Lea Tahuhu with the ball, and the power of Sophie Devine’s hitting in the middle order will need to fire if the White Ferns are to lift the title.
India have had good preparation for this tournament, winning the last two tournaments they played, although neither featured a team from the top four. They no longer seem a team that is reliant on Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, with a number of young players taking up more responsibility. Watch out for Harmanpreet Kaur and Shikha Pandey, who have won India games with both bat and ball in the last six months.
A new look England face their first big test since leaving out veterans Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway. With a clear mandate to play more positive cricket, and home advantage, Heather Knight’s team are strong contenders. The focus will be on in-swinger Anya Shrubsole – player off the series in WT20 2016 - and ‘keeper Sarah Taylor, who is returning to international cricket after taking several months off to recover from anxiety issues.
The WT20 champions were surprise finalists in the last edition of the World Cup, but have not been the same force in ODI cricket that they are in the shortest format. Still, with all-rounder Stafanie Taylor – who was named as captain of the ICC team of the year 2016 - at the helm, and talents like Haley Matthews and Deandra Dottin in the squad, expect this bunch of big game players to spring a few surprises.
With a strong bowling line up, featuring the pace of Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail up front, South Africa can be a force to reckon with on their day. Their batting has been shored up by 18-year-old talent Laura Wolvaardt at the top, and they will fancy themselves as contenders for a semi-final berth.
One of the most rapidly improving sides in international cricket, Pakistan notched up an upset win over the West Indies in the warm-up games, challenging anyone who might want to write them off. If conditions should favour their spinners, Sana Mir’s squad could cause a flutter in the delicately balanced tournament.
Decidedly the minnows of the tournament, Sri Lanka have not delivered on the promise they showed in the 2013 World Cup, where they beat England and knocked out India, for a number of reasons. New coach Hemantha Devapriya has promised a more positive brand of cricket this time, and Inoka Ranaweera’s squad will be boosted by the return from injury of former skipper Sasikala Siriwardene.
Snehal Pradhan is a former India cricketer and now a freelane journalist. She hosts the tutorial series ‘Cricket How To’ on YouTube, and tweets @SnehalPradhan
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