WWT20, Group A Overview: Two Underdogs Amidst …

The Women’s World T20 gets underway in the Caribbean from November 9 with ten of the best teams in the world taking part in the biennial event.

The teams have been divided into two groups – A & B – and will play a total of four games each. Two sides from each group will then qualify for the semi-finals which will be staged on November 22.

Group A comprises of South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, England and hosts Windies. Here Cricketnext takes a close look at the making of each team and how they stand ahead of the marquee event.

South Africa (T20I ranking: 6)

Led by the effervescent Dane Van Niekerk, South Africa are one of the top contenders to take the Women’s World T20 2018 trophy home. They boast of a potent bowling attack which will be led by the experienced pacers Marizanne Kaap and Shabnim Ismail, while van Niekerk and Masabata Klaas will don the spinner’s role. South Africa had made the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup in July 2017 and the crux of the unit remains same for the 20-over World Cup as well.

The batting department will be led by the hard-hitting opener Lizelle Lee, who has been in stupendous form in recent times. The right-hander has 378 runs in 16 T20Is in the last 12 months striking at 127.70 with three half-centuries. In the Women’s Big Bash League earlier this year, the 26-year-old, playing for Melbourne Stars smashed 349 runs in 12 outings with a strike-rate of 111.14 while more recently in the Women’s Super League, in England she single-handedly helped Surrey Stars win the title with a stunning 58-ball 104 in the final against Loughborough Lightning. She scored her runs at a belligerent 149.15 throughout the tournament and the South Africans will be hoping for more such fireworks come the World T20.

Her opening partner Laura Wolvaardt has been in good form as well and with the likes of Mignon Du Preez, van Niekerk and all-rounders Chloe Tryon and Sane Luus, South Africa look like the team to beat. The return of wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty after injury will only add to the depth of an already formidable unit. What also works well for them is they have acclimatised to the conditions already having toured the Caribbean in September for a T20I series.

Captain’s corner: “Going there (the Caribbean) was a massive advantage for us going into the World Cup, the conditions, it’s a bit slower, it’s not where you can come in and plant your foot forward and just throw your hands at it. It’s quite difficult, you have to adapt your game. You have to find ways to score, you can just stand there in the middle and say it’s difficult, we have to expand our game and maybe open up the vee behind us, it’s something we have spoken about with the batters to go work on, the sweeps and the laps. We didn’t play those often,”

Fixtures

vs Sri Lanka, Saint Lucia – 12 November

vs Windies, Saint Lucia – 14 November

vs England, Saint Lucia – 16 November

vs Bangladesh, Saint Lucia – 18 November

Squad: Dane Van Niekerk ©, Chloe Tryon (vc), Trisha Chetty (wk), Mosaline Daniels, Mignon Du Preez, Yolani Fourie, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kaap, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee (wk), Sune Luus, Zintle Mali, Robyn Searle, Tumi Sekhukhune, Laura Wolvaardt.

Windies (T20I ranking: 4)

The current holders of the trophy, the Windies, are prime contenders to defend their title, especially considering they are well-versed with the conditions.

The crux of the unit bears a similar feel to the one that overhauled Australia in the finals of the 2016 World T20 in Kolkata with the hosts retaining 11 of the 15 players who won them the title. The Windies will be led by Stafanie Taylor, the current holder of the best average in women’s T20Is (36.97), and was the Player of the tournament in the 2016 edition. Also the current World No.1 all-rounder in the format, she will be keen to continue her excellent run of form on home territory.

The hosts boast of a power-packed batting lineup with the likes of Taylor, Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin, Kycia Knight and Merissa Aguilleira all capable of turning it on. Dottin came into relevance during the World T20 event in 2010 when she slammed a 45-ball 112* against South Africa and she has since not looked back.

The pace department is a little light with the responsibility largely falling on Shamilia Connell’s shoulders but the Windies have an excellent spin unit in Matthews, ranked No. 2 in the world, Anisa Mohammed, ranked 11, Taylor and Afy Fletcher. The Windies have a side packed with all-rounders all capable to win them a game with both and ball and that will probably be their greatest asset. They know the conditions, are the defending champions and should ideally make it to the semi-finals of the event despite having strong competition in England and South Africa.

The recent form of the Windies though has been a mixed bag. They thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in a T20I series but were crushed 4-0 by New Zealand soon after. More recently they drew a five-match T20I series with South Africa 2-2.

Captain’s corner: “The squad is looking really good. We had a camp for the last five months back and forth, in and out. I think one thing that stood out for me is how improved the fitness was – I thought that was really good. It’s been tremendous. And looking at even last night’s game, it showed as well. You always want to win with the support of your fans, your families, coming to see you. And I think for us it’s a great deal and to win – to regain the title here and not just that, but the first-ever stand-alone T20, that would be history. We definitely would want to create history again.”

Fixtures

vs Bangladesh, Guyana – 9 November

vs South Africa, St. Lucia – 14 November

vs Sri Lanka, St. Lucia – 16 November

vs England, St. Lucia – 18 November

Squad: Stafanie Taylor ©, Afy Fletcher, Anisa Mohammed, Britney Cooper, Chedean Nation, Chinelle Henry, Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews, Kycia Knight, Merissa Aguilleira, Natasha McLean, Shakera Selman, Shamilia Connell, Shemaine Campbelle, Sheneta Grimmond.

England (T20I ranking: 3)

England were winners of the first-ever Women’s World T20 held in 2009. Since then they have suffered heartbreaks at the hands of Australia three times – twice in the finals in 2012 & 2014 and then in a semi-final game in 2016. However, on the back of winning the ODI World Cup at home in 2017, England seemed to have found a new dimension to their game and will walk into this year’s World T20 as one of the favourites. They have gun players in their side who have all been in exquisite form in 2018 and are itching to go out and perform for their country.

The year has been a particularly good one for opener Danielle Wyatt, who has slammed two centuries in the last 12 months alone while her opening partner Tammy Beaumont has shown impressive touch as well. She had cracked a superb 52-ball 116 in a T20I earlier this year when England posted the highest-ever total in the history of Women’s T20Is – 250/3 against South Africa in Taunton.

The side will be led by Heather Knight, who finished second in the run-scorers list in the Women’s Super League and with the likes of Nat Sciver, Katherine Brunt and vice-captain Anya Shrubsole in the mix, England make a compelling case to take the title home for the second time. The only area they seem to be lacking is in the spin department. While the ever-reliable Danielle Hazell will be around, in Linsey Smith, Kirstie Gordon, and Sophia Dunkley England seem to be lacking an experienced tweaker. 19-year-old left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone will thus have to step up and do the job for her team’s sake.

England’s recent record in the 20-over format has been encouraging and with most of the players having taken part in the Women’s Super League, they have enough game time in their system.

Captain’s corner: “To be honest it’s been quite a long buildup, so it’s really nice to get really close to getting out there and playing the first games.we’ve had some brilliant warmups. We had a game at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium with 5,000 people there, a real sort of party atmosphere. It was the best warmup game I’ve ever been involved in. Got some real good learnings actually from team, in terms of the wickets we’re going to play on. And been able to adapt, as well, to go to St. Lucia, and then if we make it through that, we’re going to have to come back to Antigua, so it’s going to be different wickets, different amount of games played on a different wickets, so it’s going to be adapting to those, and how we go about that, it wasn’t particularly easy probably in Antigua to score. Batsmen had to swallow their ego a little bit and scrap out scores. It might be completely different in St. Lucia, so we’ve got to be prepared for that and obviously take some confidence in hopefully the last warmup game going into that competition.”

Fixtures

vs Sri Lanka, St. Lucia: 9 November

vs Bangladesh, St. Lucia: 12 November

vs South Africa, St. Lucia: 16 November

vs Windies, St. Lucia: 18 November

Squad: Heather Knight ©, Anya Shrubsole (vc), Tamsin Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Natalie Sciver, Linsey Smith, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.

Bangladesh (T20I ranking: 9)

Bangladesh won the World T20 Qualifier in the Netherlands earlier this year to seal their spot in the World T20 in the Caribbean and though on paper, they might look a slightly weakened side in comparison to the others in the group, it will be foolish to rule them out. The Salma Khatun-led unit have won 12 out of 20 matches this year, which includes defeating India twice during the Asia Cup 2018 to win the multi-nation tournament for the first time.

Spin has always been a strength for Bangladesh and with the surfaces in the Caribbean bound to offer turn from the outset they have two world-class spinners in Rumana Ahmed, the leg-spinner, ranked No.7 in T20Is and Nahida Akter, the left-arm spinner, at No.9 in the side. Khadija Tul Kubra and Khatun’s off-spin is also there to lend support while the pacers Jahanara Alam and Panna Ghosh recently picked up individual five-wicket hauls to prove they are not to be underestimated too.

In the batting department, Fargana Hoque and Shamima Sultana have generally held fort for Bangladesh at the top of the order and are in good form having scored two half-centuries each this year. Ayasha Rahman, Ahmed and Khatun have also chipped in when needed but batting will need to fire in unison if they wish to come anywhere close to staging an upset in a group which already has some tough contenders.

Bangladesh’s 9 wins this year have come while chasing including two last-ball thrillers against Ireland and India showing the ability to hold their nerves in crunch situations. They have risen to ninth position on the team rankings with some solid all-round cricket and will hope to continue their surge and throw up some surprises in the marquee event.

Captain’s corner: “Over the last three months or so, we’re playing good cricket, starting from the Asia Cup to the qualifying, the Ireland series, and then coming over here ahead of the tournament. I think by this time we’ve adapted to the conditions and the weather. I believe that we’ve had good preparation. I’m happy with the composition, and we’ve shown various improvements from what we’ve had in the last year and a half. I’m very hopeful. I’m hopeful we’re going to score. I think it’s a challenge for us playing at this level and to play consistently well, but still, I’m hopeful that we’ll get to this before.”

Fixtures

vs Windies, Guyana – November 9

vs England, St. Lucia – November 12

vs Sri Lanka, St. Lucia – November 14

vs South Africa, St. Lucia – November 18

Squad: Salma Khatun ©, Rumana Ahmed, Jahanara Alam, Fargana Hoque, Khadija Tul Kubra, Fahima Khatun, Ayasha Rahman, Shamima Sultana, Nahida Akter, Panna Ghosh, Ritu Moni, Sanjida Islam, Nigar Sultana, Lata Mondal, Sharmin Akhter.

Sri Lanka (T20I ranking: 8)

Sri Lanka haven’t had many results coming their way in the shortest format of the game in recent times but led by the belligerent Chamari Athapaththu, will be keen to turn a few heads in the World event.

In Shashikala Siriwardene, they have a world-class spinner in their lineup and the experienced off-spinner will be a vital cog in the Sri Lankan unit. Off-spinner Kavisha Dilhari, left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari, Inoshi Priyadharshani and captain Athapaththu will all have a role to play in conditions which will be conducive to spinners. The pace department will be led by Eshani Lokusuriyage and with the likes of Hasini Perera, Ama Kanchana and Udeshika Prabodhani Sri Lanka boast of a formidable attack.

Athapaththu will once again lead the batting unit. The 28-year-old turned most heads during a scintillating 178* against Australia in the 2017 World Cup and has since gone from strength to strength. Most recently she hit a solid 115 against India in an ODI in Katunayake but her 20-over form in 2018 has been patchy. She missed the Asia Cup due to dengue fever and has only played eight T20Is in 2018 where she has scored 130 runs at 16.25. Her returns in the Women’s Big Bash League and Women’s Super League were modest as well. However, she is undoubtedly the most experienced batsman in the lineup and her being in form will be key to Sri Lanka’s chances at the World T20.

Sri Lanka have been placed with defending champions Windies, England, South Africa and Bangladesh in Group A. It is a tough group but on their day they are as good a unit as any and that is what Athapaththu will hope when the biennial event gets underway.

Captain’s corner: “This time playing only Women’s T20 World Cup is a good opportunity for the women’s cricketers, so worldwide people can see our talents. So I think it’s a good opportunity for female cricketers and for women’s cricket, really good. I’m really happy about our batting lineup now, new coach, doing a really good job for our team, and a couple of youngsters playing really good, and senior players also doing good. I think this is a good opportunity for our team to come with the best ranking this time, so I think our team is definitely doing good in T20.”

Fixtures

vs England, Saint Lucia – 10 November

vs South Africa, Saint Lucia – 12 November

vs Bangladesh, Saint Lucia – 14 November

vs Windies, Saint Lucia – 16 November

Squad: Chamari Athapaththu ©, Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Sugandika Kumari, Eshani Lokusuriyage, Dilani Manodara, Yasoda Mendis, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Prabodhani, Inoshi Priyadharshani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Shashikala Siriwardene, Rebeca Vandort, Sripali Weerakkody.