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by Alastair Symondson
The 2017 edition of Women's World Cup will get underway with a double header on 24th June in Bristol and Derby with eight teams vying for the title.
The top four teams of the ICC Women's Championship conducted between 2014 and 2016 - Australia, England, New Zealand and West Indies were awarded a direct qualification while the remaining four teams - India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan made it to the event through the qualifiers that were played in Colombo earlier this year.Favourites for the tournament are Australia, with the hosts England well placed in the cricket betting markets to cause an upset.
The eight sides will compete in a single group with top four sides progressing to the semi-finals and the final will be played at Lord's on 23rd July. The Women's World Cup will also see 10 games out of the 31 televised with the remaining 21 live-streamed.
Australia will once again be firm favourites having won six titles out of the 10 tournaments so far and possess the top two run getters from ICC Women's Championship - Meg Lanning (1232) and Ellyse Perry (985). Both players have an average of 72 and 89 respectively, while the leading wicket taker Jess Jonassen (31) is also from the defending champions. The team will have to combat the challenges in bowling that is being hampered by injuries.
England have home advantage to enjoy with and have been a reformed unit ever since Heather Knight took over the reins. Sarah Taylor is back in the squad after addressing her anxiety related issues and Tammy Beaumont has been impressive at the top. They looked formidable in the warm-up game against Sri Lanka and with Knight, Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt in the bowling department, they will be hoping to win their fourth title.
New Zealand, the only other team to register a tournament win apart from England and Australia, have a good blend of batting and bowling strength. With 978 runs from 20 games, Suzie Bates will be a key performer while Amy Satterthwaite is not far either. Since 2016, Satterthwaite has an average close to 88 and also snared 16 wickets as well. Their confidence will also be high from the fact that they demolished India in the warm-up game.
West Indies reached the final for the first time in the last edition before surrendering to Australia. The T20 champions have included four uncapped players but the likes of Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin will be key to their fortunes once again. The spotlight, though will on the 19-year-old all-rounder Hayley Matthews.
India, though dominated the qualifiers and quadrangular series in South Africa, the way they lost the warm-up game to New Zealand can be quite demoralising. Mithali Raj will guide a group of young and talented players. They also possess leading wicket taker of women's cricket Jhulan Goswami in their ranks.
Pakistan, the sixth ranked team have drafted a number of new players but the core of the team will lie with Sana Mir and Bismah Maroof. Though, might not be one of the favourites, they can surely surprises teams on their day like they did against India in the T20 World Cup.
South Africa have got all the right combination to go all the way in the tournament. Skipper Dane van Niekerk has returned to full fitness while with the likes of Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez and Shabnim Ismail they can match any team in the tournament,
Sri Lanka will enter the tournament with their highest ranked batter at 22nd position while their top ranked bowler is spinner Inoka Ranaweera at 35th. They need something special from their senior players to create an impact in the tournament.
© Cricket World 2017