The time for talking is nearly over - ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is upon us

20-02-2020

Sydney, Warm-up matches have given teams final chances to tune up ahead

of the big event and Australia and India get the highly-anticipated seventh edition of the

event underway in Sydney on Friday.

Group A:

Australia:

Let’s not pretend Australia can’t handle expectation - they’ve been doing that for a decade.

But the goldfish bowl of a home World Cup is hard to replicate.

Matthew Mott has a Swiss army knife of a bowling attack, with the artistry of Ellyse Perry,

the destruction of Megan Schutt and the wiles of Jess Jonassen combining with fine wrist

and finger spin options.

Alyssa Healy needs a score but with Beth Mooney in fine fettle and Meg Lanning at the

helm, Australian crowds will be treated to a team at the top of their game.

India:

The signs are positive for Harmanpreet Kaur’s youthful side, hoping to win the event for the

first time after semi-final showings in 2009, 2010 and 2018.

Any team that can chase down 173 against Australia has to be viewed as a serious

contender and a top four of Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and

Kaur is the tournament’s deadliest.

They’ll hope the warm-up form of Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey continues to

balance out their side, and a spin-heavy attack led by Rajeshwari Gayakwad finds

assistance.

Bangladesh:

Bangladesh are going where they’ve never gone before in this World Cup, having

never played Australia or New Zealand in a T20I or toured Down Under.

Batting firepower is a concern, with much resting on 23-year-old keeper-batter Nigar

Sultana and all-rounder Rumana Ahmed who both have Women’s Big Bash League

experience.

Nahida Akter spearheads a spin-heavy attack and Ritu Moni will have to do plenty of

heavy lifting with pace on the ball.

They showed their ability to spring a surprise by beating India twice at the Asia Cup

in 2018, and will have their work cut out to produce another shock of that scale.

New Zealand:

With a heady blend of youth and experience and an energising new captain in Sophie

Devine, New Zealand are in rude health heading into the T20 World Cup.

The return of Lea Tahuhu gives their bowling x-factor from a pace perspective, and

the stardust leg-spin sprinkles on tournament play will be provided by teenager Amelia

Kerr.

Alongside a batting line-up graced by Suzie Bates, the highest run-scorer in the

event’s history, and in-form Devine, the White Ferns have all bases covered.

Sri Lanka:

Perhaps the biggest movers in the warm-up matches, Sri Lanka’s ten-wicket success

over England suggests they can carry clout in Group A.

Chamari Atapattu looks capable of handling the burden with bat and ball and

Shashikala Siriwardena does the same, while Hasini Perera is a fine stroke-maker.

They are in with some big fish but Sri Lanka will believe they can spring a surprise

and reach the knockout stages for the first time.

Group B:

England:

This is a mercurial England team but one that remains capable of dominant

performances, led by an exceptional skipper in Heather Knight.

Danni Wyatt will get them off to flying starts and Nat Sciver and Knight in the

middle overs will help them access totals of above 150, while Anya Shrubsole

and Katherine Brunt are masters of the seam art.

Finding the right blend in the middle order is now the key as Lisa Keightley

hopes to engineer a second T20 World Cup win.

Pakistan:

An intriguing prospect, Pakistan now have the experience of six T20 World Cups

under their belt and will fancy their chances of winning multiple games in Australia.

They have totally revamped their top order from the 3-0 series defeat to England,

with uncapped 15-year-old Ayesha Naseem set to join experienced campaigner

Javeria Khan in the opener slot.

It remains to be seen where the wickets are coming from, but another debutant in

16-year-old leg-spinner Syeda Arooba Shah should be one to watch.

South Africa:

Not much is expected from South Africa at this World Cup, a rarity that will suit Dane

van Niekerk’s side down to the ground.

When their bowling battery is on song, it tears the world’s best batting line-ups

asunder - shown in the way they skittled India for 70 in Surat last year and accounted

for Australia’s top order inside six overs this week.

There are few more terrifying sights than Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Sune

Luus on song in tandem and as long as the runs continue to flow from Van Niekerk and

Lizelle Lee, they’ll be a big threat.

Thailand:

Thailand’s story is a heart-warming one but Group B opponents will know they aren’t to be underestimated as a highly experienced and cohesive T20I team.

No nation has played as many T20Is as them in the last two years and Sornnarin Tippoch

knows exactly how to motivate her players for the big occasion, shown in their performances

at the Qualifier event.

Nattaya Boochatham took more wickets than any other bowler in the format in 2019 and

with Natthakan Chantam dangerous at the top, Thailand will be great to watch at the World

Cup.

West Indies:

Serial semi-finalists West Indies are almost an unknown quantity in terms of form with

a succession of star players, including captain Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin,

having missed long periods with injury of late.

With eight players returning from their unforgettable 2016 final triumph and 11 from the

squad that campaigned on home soil in 2018, they are one of the tournament’s most

settled outfits.

If Dottin is fit to bowl, Hayley Matthews hits her straps and youngsters such as Aaliyah

Alleyne complement the seasoned core, they’ll be bearing down on the final four before

you know it.

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