With just over a month left for the ICC women’s cricket World Cup (50 overs) to kick off in New Zealand (from March 4), the eight teams set to fight for the silverware have got down to some serious business before the all-important tournament.
While hosts New Zealand, Australia, England, India and South Africa locked their World Cup berths, thanks to their superior world ranking, West Indies, Bangladesh and Pakistan were the three teams to join the bandwagon through qualifying matches in Zimbabwe.
There is action galore before the women cricketers take the big stage. For a fantasy cricket enthusiast, it is perhaps the right time to understand different permutations and combinations that the teams will deploy before settling for their preferred combination for the World Cup.
Although My11Circle online fantasy cricket app will provide you with all the relevant data, in-depth analysis and expert opinions that will enable you to carefully pick your XI players, these pre-World Cup matches are a good sneak-peek for fantasy cricket lovers to understand each team’s form and what can be expected from the players before they head into the biggest and oldest tournament of the sport (the first women’s World Cup was conducted in 1973—two years before the men’s World Cup event).
Australia, the six-time champions, and England, the reigning world champions, are already involved in a one-off Ashes Test before they slug it out in the three-ODI series starting from February 3.
Australia will again be the hot favourites. Their shocking semi-final loss to India in the previous World Cup notwithstanding, the Meg Lanning-led side have hardly put a foot wrong since then. The Aussies have gone strength-to-strength, winning 28 games out of 30 with a world record streak of 26, which apparently came to an end against India as well.
The upcoming three ODIs against defending champions England are a good opportunity for Australia to find their mojo back.
Left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux missed out on the World Cup due to a foot injury, but Australia’s other left-arm tweaker Jess Jonassen, the No. 1 ranked ODI bowler, is one of the players to watch out for with 47 ODI wickets in 39 matches since the last World Cup in 2017.
For defending champions England, the three ODIs are a great way to set the tone for the World Cup. Winning eight out of 11 ODIs last year, a lot will ride on batter Tammy Beaumont and bowler Sophie Ecclestone.
Having beaten India (2-1), their finalists in the 2017 World Cup, and convincing victories (2-1 and 4-1) against New Zealand at home and away respectively, there is no doubting that England can’t dish out another solid performance to clinch their fifth world title.
India has done some smart planning by engaging in a one-off T20I and five ODIs against World Cup hosts New Zealand starting from February 9 at Napier. It will provide the two-time finalists (2005 and 2017) an excellent opportunity to get acclimated to the tricky Kiwi conditions before the mega event. Once again, a lot will ride on senior pros like skipper Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami in what could be their swansong tournament. However, there is enough young support this time to give India the final push and create history.
New Zealand would not just like to replicate the success of their men’s counterpart, but also go a step further and clinch the title just like they did in 2000 while playing hosts. The five ODIs against India are crucial to New Zealand, who had a tough 2021 with nine defeats in 11 games. The Sophie Divine-led Kiwis are in dire need of a confidence booster ahead of the World Cup.
World No.3 South Africa will lock horns against West Indies in four ODIs from January 28 at home with an aim to ensure the two-time semi-finalists (2000 and 2017) break the barrier this time. The form of Lizelle Lee, the world No.1 batter, is crucial to Proteas’ success.