The Women’s World Cup 2017, which starts in England on June 24, is now exactly 100 days away. Australia Women, England Women, New Zealand Women and West Indies Women earned automatic berths through the ICC Women's Championship, while India Women, South Africa Women, Sri Lanka Women and Pakistan Women made it through the Qualifiers in Colombo. Here is a look at how the teams have prepared before the 11th edition of the World Cup.
Having dominated the Women’s Championship, where it topped the table with 18 wins in 21 games, Australia Women continued its good run during the recently concluded three-match series against New Zealand Women. Meg Lanning made her tenth century – most by any batter in the history of Women’s ODIs – in the third game to seal the series 2-1. Lanning has been in top form, topping the run charts in the Women’s Championship with a tally of 1232 in 21 games at an average of 72.47. She is the only batter to have made more than 1000 runs in the Championship, followed by Ellyse Perry with 985. Perry also took 23 wickets. Australia also has with it Jess Jonassen, the best bowler in the Championship, with 31 wickets at 19.09. Australia opens its World Cup campaign against West Indies Women in Taunton on June 26.
England Women finished second in the Women’s Championship with 14 wins, and had a dramatic journey to qualify for the World Cup at home. Heather Knight replaced Charlotte Edwards, who retired from international cricket, after its semifinal loss in the Women’s World Twenty20 2016 in India, and the change in leadership reflected in the aggressive brand of cricket the team played in the home series against Pakistan Women. It crossed 365 in two of the three ODIs to complete a clean sweep, and then completed another 3-0 rout over Sri Lanka in Colombo. Knight has led from the front with 642 runs and 29 wickets. She was well supported by Tammy Beaumont, who made an unbeaten 168 against Pakistan, and the pace bowling duo of Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt, who took 44 wickets between them. England will play against India in Derby on the opening day of the World Cup on June 24.
New Zealand Women
In Suzie Bates, New Zealand Women has one of the best allrounders on the circuit. She was the third-highest run-getter (978) and picked up 16 wickets to lead from the front as New Zealand finished third on the Women’s Championship table. Bates’s consistency was instrumental in her becoming the first player to win the ICC ODI and T20I player of the year awards in the same year, in 2016. New Zealand recently beat Australia in the T20I series 2-1, where Bates was again the star with 87 runs and two wickets. The best game was the second, which New Zealand won on the back of Anna Peterson’s last over hat-trick. New Zealand also has with it Amy Satterthwaite, who recently became only the second player after Kumar Sangakkara to hit four consecutive centuries in ODIs. New Zealand would be hoping that Sophie Devine and Leigh Kasperek recover from their injuries for the opening World Cup game against Sri Lanka Women.
West Indies Women
With India Women forfeiting its three games against Pakistan Women, West Indies Women became the fourth team to earn an automatic berth for the World Cup. It will start its campaign against Australia Women on June 6. West Indies made a big statement when it won the World Twenty20 2016 in India, but on its return to India late last year it was whitewashed in the three-match ODI series. West Indies, however, won the T20I series, and Stafanie Taylor went on to be named as the captain of the first-ever ICC Women’s Team of the Year. Anisa Mohammed continues to be the team’s best bowler. The offspinner was the third-highest wicket-taker in the Women’s Championship with a tally of 27 scalps at 22.51. Apart from her, youngsters like Hayley Mathews and Britney Cooper, two key performers in the World T20 win, have added depth to the side.
Missing out on an automatic berth in the World Cup proved to be a blessing in disguise for India Women. It remained unbeaten in the Qualifiers in Colombo, where Harmanpreet Kaur hit eight runs off the last two balls to script a thrilling one-wicket win over South Africa Women in the final. India has now won 13 ODIs in a row, and been served well by Mithali Raj, its captain who averages over 100 in the wins. Equally crucial has been the role of the spinners led by Rajeshwari Gayakwad, who was the fourth-best bowler in the Championship, and Ekta Bisht. Depending on how they progress in their recovery, Harmanpreet, Jhulan Goswami and Smriti Mandhana, who are currently undergoing rehabilitation for their injuries at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, may or may not tour South Africa for the Quadrangular series from May 7 to 21. It is a good chance for India to extend its winning streak and be match-ready before its first World Cup game.
South Africa Women
South Africa Women’s pace trio of Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka is one of the best in the world. It is backed up well by the legspin duo of Dane van Niekerk, the captain, and Sune Luus, the player of the series in the Qualifiers. With a balanced bowling attack and the presence of Lizelle Lee, who has hit more sixes than anyone else since her debut in 2013, and Laura Wolvaardt at the top of the order, South Africa has produced an attractive brand of cricket in recent times. The way it has adapted in the subcontinent has been impressive. Its journey to the final of the Qualifiers in Colombo was as impressive as its away series wins over India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The Quadrangular series, also involving India, Ireland Women and Zimbabwe Women, at home gives South Africa a chance to tune its preparation even more going into the World Cup, where it opens its campaign against Pakistan at Grace Road on June 25.
Sri Lanka Women
Sri Lanka Women would hope that Shashikala Siriwardene, who missed the Qualifiers at home because of an injury, recovers in time to lead when the team takes on New Zealand in its opening game of the World Cup on June 24. Sri Lanka made it to the World Cup on the back of some impressive batting performance in the Qualifiers. While Chamari Athapaththu played outside of her aggressive nature, equally impressive was the young Nipuni Hansika. She got starts in five games and gave a glimpse of her potential. The spin duo of Inoka Ranaweera, the captain, and Inoshi Fernando led the bowling with 18 wickets between them.
Sana Mir becoming the sixth player to reach a double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets was one of the highlights for Pakistan Women during the Qualifier in Colombo. The other talking point was Javeria Khan scoring 299 runs to top the batting charts. It also had in its line up Nashra Sandhu, who was the highest wicket-taker with 17 scalps at 11.05. That it ended fourth on the points table was because of its defeat to Sri Lanka. Pakistan qualified for the World Cup despite injuries to some of its key players, and that was its biggest takeaway. The team management would be expecting to have a full-strength squad at its disposal for the first game of the World