The opening group stage of the ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 has come to a close, with star players beginning to emerge and a number of teams impressing ahead of the Super Six group stage. We take a look at some of the biggest talking points from the first six days of action in South Africa.
INDIA’S OPENERS ARE A FORCE
Anyone who wants to beat India in this tournament will likely need to find a way to deal with their in-form openers.
The quality of Shafali Verma is no secret – 74 senior caps for her country at such a young age means she was always going to be one of the players to watch at the tournament.
And the 18-year-old was the third-highest scorer in the first group stage, slamming 124 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 233.96.
But it isn’t all about Verma for India. The top-scorer in the tournament after the first three games is India’s Shweta Sehrawat, who has scored 197 runs and is yet to be dismissed in her three innings.
The remarkable right-hander scored a stunning 92* against South Africa and followed it up with a classy 74* against UAE at the top of the order.
Some experimentation for the final group game saw Sehrawat pushed down to number six to give some of her teammates a chance out in the middle. But even there she had an impact, smacking 31* off just ten balls in a finisher role to show the range of her skillset.
FOUR TEAMS BOW OUT
After almost a week of the tournament, we now know that four teams will not be able to win the title.
USA, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Scotland each finished in fourth position in their respective groups after all failing to win a match, and as such did not qualify for the Super Six group stage.
All four teams showed glimpses of real quality despite their defeats, and they will have another chance to take to the field at the tournament when they face off in play-off matches.
USA will face Scotland at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Friday, before Zimbabwe play Indonesia at the same ground.
BANGLADESH HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
Arguably the most significant result of the tournament’s first stage came on the opening morning with Bangladesh’s brilliant win over Australia.
The Tigresses were superb throughout their Group A campaign, winning all three matches, and now have a huge chance in the Super Six stage.
Bangladesh need to keep up their end of course, with intriguing fixtures against South Africa and UAE to come. But their semi-final chances could well hinge on the result of the game between India and Australia in Potchefstroom on Saturday, which looks set to be crucial.
Shorna and Marufa Akter will be relied upon to continue to deliver with bat and ball respectively.
ENGLAND AND NEW ZEALAND DOMINATE
There was plenty of quality action in Groups B and C, yet there was never much doubt about the two teams who would finish top.
England and New Zealand both produced highly professional returns through the opening group stage, picking up three wins and registering huge net run rates.
Only three batters have featured for the Kiwis, such has been their dominance with the bat, losing just a single wicket throughout the group stage.
Antonia Hamilton and Anna Browning put on 77 to beat Indonesia first up, before a 46-run partnership in just 3.5 overs put them well on course to beat Ireland. Hamilton was the one wicket to fall in that second game, allowing Georgia Plimmer to come in and smash a quickfire 17*. And Plimmer was given another chance at the top of the order against West Indies, hitting 41* from 22 in a 72-run partnership with Browning to win the game at a canter.
England’s progress has seen the contributions more evenly shared, with plenty of batters amongst the runs and five of their bowlers going at an economy of three or less per over.
However, if one player has stood out it’s been Grace Scrivens, whose five wickets and 120 runs make her the top contributor in both columns for England.