The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is all set to begin tonight with hosts South Africa taking on Sri Lanka in Cape Town. 10 teams across two groups will battle it out over the course of two weeks to take home the coveted title, with defending champions Australia the favourites to win the trophy for the third time in a row.
India’s women will be eager to lay their hands on the trophy this time around and avenge their defeat to Australia in the finals of the World Cup back in 2020.
The World Cup has already garnered high interest with Ireland’s shock victory over Australia in the warm-up game stunning the world. All three venues in South Africa are friendlier to the batters, with high-scoring games likely to be a regular feature of the World Cup.
South Africa will host Sri Lanka in the first match of the tournament, while Indian women will start their campaign on Sunday against arch-rivals Pakistan.
As the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is set to excite fans around the globe for the next two weeks, here’s all you need to know about the tournament.
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are part of Group One of the tournament, out of which the top two teams will qualify for the semi-finals. Australia, the top-ranked team in the world and the indisputable favourites will be eager to finish the job as early as possible.
Australia will face stiff competition from the White Ferns, who have beaten them twice in this World Cup cycle. With an upward swing of form, New Zealand can give a tough fight to their larger neighbours for the top spot in the group.
South Africa’s chances depend on how they fare against both Australia and New Zealand. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are unlikely to make any major impact in the group, but a surprise upset win from either team will alter the calculations in the group.
To no one’s surprise, arch-rivals India and Pakistan have been slotted into the same group at an international tournament once again. But with the presence of England in the same group, both India and Pakistan will have to be on their toes to qualify successfully for the semi-finals.
India, alongside Australia, are one of the two favourites to win the T20 World Cup. With the inaugural Women’s Indian T20 League slated to start next month, India’s women will be upbeat with their confidence levels during the tournament – a welcome development for the future of the team.
But the Women in Blue first have to overcome the challenge from Pakistan to kick-start their campaign on the right note and fend off the threat from England’s women.
Players to watch
The T20 World Cup will feature a host of young players across countries joining the veterans.
Richa Ghosh and Jemimiah Rodrigues have been in sublime form in both warm-up games for India. Harmanpreet Kaur has missed both games but is expected to lead the team from the front during the tournament. Shikha Pandey’s return to the team boosts the bowling department’s prospects.
Ellyse Perry’s recovery from back injury will give a boost to Australia, with Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris all in superb form.
Fatima Sana from Pakistan and Zaida James from West Indies have emerged as capable allrounders ready to make their mark on the world stage, while Ashleigh Gardner will look to stamp her authority in the tournament once more.
With 23 scalps from 24 T20Is since the start of 2022, Renuka Thakur has emerged as the X factor for Indian women. Her ability to take wickets in the powerplay is needed to ensure India stay in the game on batting-friendly tracks, and she needs to be in top form throughout the tournament for India to succeed.
South Africa’s disastrous handling of their captain Dane van Niekerk’s fitness test has received widespread criticism from pundits, but the threat of Marizanne Kapp staying away from the squad has subsided. Their standout performer, Marizanne Kapp, needs to be in top form if the hosts are to have a chance against the Aussies and the White Ferns.
When and where to watch?
The opening game of the tournament will take place tonight at the Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town. Along with the Newlands, Boland Park in Paarl, and St. George’s Park Cricket Ground in Gqeberha will host the games.
With the matches taking place in South Africa, Indian viewers can catch all the action at convenient times. All of India’s games will start at 15:00 IST, while the Group 1 games will start at 19:00 IST.
The semi-finals of the tournament will take place on the 23rd and 24th of February, with the final scheduled to be held on February 26.
Star Sports will be streaming the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, while all matches will also be streamed on Disney+ Hotstar.
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