Women’s Sport: T20 World-Cup Preview- Who are the favourites, who are the underdogs and who could surprise a few?

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The seventh instalment of the Women’s T20 World Cup gets underway in Australia tomorrow, as the hosts start their title defence against India at the Sydney Showground. 

This year’s tournament will feature-front foot technology for the first time, with the third-umpire now tasked with monitoring no balls and communicating any oversteps to the on-field umpires. 

Like 2018, the competition will feature 10 teams, nine of which are the same, with Thailand replacing Ireland after finishing above them in qualifying.

As four-time winners, defending champions, hosts and the world number ones, Australia are overwhelming favourites to claim an unprecedented fifth title.

Who will be their biggest threats, however? Who has the power to cause an upset? Who is likely to struggle?

Here is a team-by-team guide, on what to expect from each of the 10 counties bidding for silverware.

Australia:

Australia is arguably better than they have ever been. 26 wins in their last 31 T20’s, sees them top the rankings by almost 200 points.

They boast the best all-rounder in the world- Ellyse Perry, the best bowler in the world -Megan Schutt and the combination of experience and destructive from Captain Meg Lanning and keeper Alyssa Healy respectively.

Added to this, they are hosts and fresh off the back of a Tri-Nations series win over England and India.

The only negative for the Aussies is the injury to Tayla Vlaeminck a few days ago, who has now been ruled out for the rest of the tournament.

They do also have the harder group, which contains themselves, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh and Sri-Lanka, though they obviously still favourite to claim the top spot.


India:

India does boast some superstars of their own, with Harmeenpreet Kaur a proven match-winner, having done so against the Aussies in the 2017 ODI World-Cup semi-final.

They also beat Australia in the recent Tr-Nations series but did lose out to them in the final.

It could be a make or break first game for India, as they meet New Zealand in their first game next Thursday; the side ranked one above them in third in the ICC rankings. 


New Zealand:

The Kiwis similarly possess a lot of batting firepower. They have the top two ranked batsmen in the world in Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine respectively.

Devine also represents perhaps their best threat with the ball has recently come off a stellar WBBL campaign. Lea Tahuhu could also prove influential with the ball in hand.

New Zealand has never reached a World-Cup final, but will fancy their chances should they manage to overcome Australia or India.


Sri-Lanka

A deserved victory against England in a warm-up game just days ago has boosted Sri-Lanka’s stock. Chamari Atapattu rose to the occasion then and did so as well against Australia in 2017 when she scored a century. Expect her form, to be crucial to the team’s success.

Sri-Lanka likely represents the best chance of causing an upset, but being in Group A with three of the top four teams in the world, this still seems unlikely.


Bangladesh:

The younger Nigar Sultana has shown lots of potential with the bat, but the 22-year-old still shows signs of inconsistency. Captain Jahanara Alam, is another name who is highly respected.

Bangladesh went winless in the last World-Cup but did beat India two years ago in the Asia Cup. 

Australia & India ICC Women's T20 World Cup Media Opportunity


England:

This will be coach Lisa Keightley’s first major tournament in charge of England and preparation has hardly gone swimmingly.

Victories over Australia and India in recent weeks came in between losses to both sides, whilst a shock 10 wicket thrashing at the hands of Sri-Lanka in their final warm-up game is no doubt the worst possible way to enter the tournament.

There are promising signs from a number of young players whom Keightley has persisted with since taking over, including the left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone.

Yet, there are many question marks over the batting, particularly with the order itself, and no player is seemingly in the best of form at present.

Nat Sciver has improved immensely, but her fitness, alongside star bowler Anya Shrubsole and all-rounder Katherine Brunt is still questionable at this stage.

Whether or not these are available will likely determine England's chances.

Being in group B, which contains South-Africa, West-Indies, Pakistan and Thailand, they could avoid meeting Australia till the final, but that is a long way away yet.


West Indies:

Former Champions in 2016, the West Indies are the only side apart from England and Australia to win the tournament but enter the competition in horrific form. They are winless in their past 11 T20 matches, though they are still captained by former world player of the year Stefanie Taylor.

Don’t rule them out of the Semi-Finals just yet. If they manage to overcome Thailand and Pakistan, this could set up a huge decider against South Africa on the 3rd March.


South-Africa:

Having claimed some major scalps in recent years, South-Africa is favourites to join England in the Semi-Finals from group B, despite reaching this stage just once in six previous attempts.

All-rounder Dane Van Niekerk is one of the best players in the world, whilst Shabnim Ismail, despite being 31 years-of-age, is still ranked second in the ICC bowling rankings.

They will not meet West-Indies until the final game of the group stages, with this match potentially pivotal to their qualification chances.


Thailand:

Sornarrin Tippoch and Chanida Sutthiruang offer Thailand’s best chances with bat and ball respectively but expect Thailand to find it tough in this tournament.

Reaching this stage in the first place is a fine achievement in itself, but any chance of a win would surely go down as one of the all-time biggest World-Cup upsets.


Pakistan:

Sat seventh in the World-Rankings, Pakistan has an outside shot at qualification, especially given the two teams above them, West Indies and South-Africa, are also in their group.

Javeria Khan was destructive at the top of the order two years ago and threatens to do so again, yet they seemingly lack any prolific bowling options aside from the much-improved spinner Anam Amin.


Follow live updates from the first game of the competition on our twitter page @GiveMeSportW.

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