Runners-up in 2020, and the current U-19 World Cup winners, it is obvious that India Women are not miles away from their maiden title. But it is the tendency to melt in crunch situations which has ailed the side for long. Can they firm up their mental side this time to emerge as the best? Captain Harmanpreet Kaur will not only have to keep the fire burning in her players till the last ball, she will also have to lead by example. On the batting front, half the job will be done if Smriti Mandhana is in form and if Shafali Verma can rediscover her explosive game. In other words, the openers are key to India’s batting success. There is variety in India’s bowling with the likes of Deepti Sharma, Renuka Singh and Radha Yadav all having enough experience to sparkle on the big stage. And about overcoming the Australian challenge, well, they almost did so in the Commonwealth Games final before losing by just 9 runs. Harmanpreet’s team blends youth and experience well and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t dream big.
Group 1:Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
Group 2:England, India, Ireland, Pakistan, West Indies
Begins on February 10, final on February 26 (Reserve day: February 27)
South Africa will host this edition. Venues? Newlands (Cape Town), Boland Park (Paarl), St George’s Park (Gqeberha)
The first round will see round-robin contests in respective groups. The top two teams from each group move to the semi-finals
There have been seven editions of the Women’s T20 World Cup so far, out of which Australia have won five times. The other two winners have been England (2009) and the West Indies (2016) MOST RUNS Suzie Bates (NZ) — 929 runs
Anya Shurbsole (Eng) — 41 wickets
Australia. Defending champions, five-time champions, have a lethal bowling attack, a quality batting line-up and are in top form. Eternal favourites.
England and India pose the biggest threat to Australia’s dominance. But don’t rule out a few surprises from South Africa, the hosts.
STATS TO REMEMBER
Australia have lost just one of their last 17 completed T20Is. That loss, by the way, came against India.
THE ‘BEST’ TEAM
For the first time, the tournament will have an all-woman team — three Match Referees and 10 umpires — of match officials. GS Lakshmi (Match Referee), Vrinda Rathi and N. Janani will fly the Indian flag high in this ‘team’