Kolkata: The battle lines are drawn between the top two ranked ODI sides at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers 2017 as India and South Africa are all set to lock horns in a high-octane clash at the P. Sara Oval on Wednesday on the first day of the Super Six stage of the tournament. Meanwhile, the other teams too would like to pull up their socks and get going as the tournament is slowly nearing it’s business end.
In other matches on the first day of the Super Six stage, Pakistan is all set to take on hosts Sri Lanka and Bangladesh would battle it out against Ireland. All these teams would work really hard to grab a spot in the top four places, which not only ensures their qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales but also guarantees them an automatic progress into the ICC Women’s Championship.
Reigning world champions Australia, England, New Zealand and the Women’s T20 World Cup champions West Indies have directly made it to the main tournament( the ICC Women’s World Cup) courtesy the fact that they had qualified for the ICC Women’s Championship back in (2014-16) which consisted of all the eight teams with an ODI status battling it out against each other in three ODI’s.
The teams that have progressed into the Super Six stage would already carry points they had acquired against other teams in the preliminary stages of the tournament. They would play matches against the teams of the other group to find for themselves a place in the top four. India and South Africa would hold a slight edge over the other teams in this respect as they had won all their group matches and would have a cushioning of four points each. Also Pakistan and hosts Sri Lanka( who enters the Super Six stage with two points each) would join India and South Africa as the favourites. However,it would indeed take a herculean effort on the part of Bangladesh and Ireland to progress further into the premier tournament of Women’s cricket.
South Africa would indeed pose a tough challenge to the fourth-placed team in the ICC Women’s Rankings, India in their upcoming match on Wednesday, as the Proteas had already trumped the women in blue by a 2-1 margin in the ICC Women’s Championship in 2014 at home. What would add more to the South African confidence is the fact that they also outplayed the Indians in a practice game recently.
However Indian captain Mithali Raj did not look much into the past but rather was ready for the challenge as her team went past Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand quite comprehensively in the recently concluded preliminary league matches. She had a lot of faith in her batting line-up and the spin attack led by offie Ekta Bisht. What further boosted her confidence is the fact that the Indian team would play two of it’s matches ( the other match against arch-rivals Pakistan) at the P. Sara Oval, to whose conditions, the Indian team has got well accustomed to, courtesy of a practice match and three preliminary league matches.
This is what the Indian skipper said, “We have to play South Africa in the Super Six whether in the beginning or the last or the middle, so it doesn’t really matter. In fact, that we are playing them in the first game is good in a way. The match against Pakistan (on 19 February) too is going to be competitive and we are looking forward to the upcoming matches.”
On the other hand, South Africa too emerged as victors in all their matches in the preliminary league stage and the South African skipper said that, the team was thoroughly focused on it’s own performances.
Dane Van Niekerk, the South African skipper said, “To be honest, we’ve not been following the performances of teams from the other group. We’ve been trying to concentrate as much as we can on our own performances. I’m sure they’re doing really well, but at the end we’re here to compete. We’re at the business-end of the tournament and we really want to work hard.”
In other matches on Wednesday, Sana Mir’s Pakistan would hold a definitive edge over Sri Lanka as Pakistan boasts of a solid batting line up consisting of the likes of Bismah Maharoof, Javeria Khan and Nain Abidi. However, an even contest is on the cards when Bangladesh take on Ireland.
Sana Mir, the Pakistan captain said, “We have had some notable individual performances. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very important that we produce a team performance in batting and bowling. We’ve seen one or two bowlers doing well, but we have to have all five bowlers bowling in the right areas. All the top batters too need to take responsibility.”
The Sri Lankan skipper Inoka Ranaweera however admitted that the team needed to work on their batting and not repeat the mistakes they had done in the past.
She said, “We have played well in the last few matches and that is how we are in the Super Six. Our aim now is to do well in these matches by concentrating and working hard, especially on our batting. Pakistan is not an easy opponent but we want to rectify whatever mistakes we have done in the past so that we can do well against them.”
South Africans have a lot of reasons to be upbeat and confident and it is well reflected by the ICC ODI Players Rankings for Women( which takes into account matches featuring teams with ODI status).
South African skipper Van Niekerk gained two places in the batting rankings to move to the 12th rank. A leg spinner, she also gained a similar number of places to move to the 15th rank in the bowling rankings released on Tuesday. All-rounder Chloe Tyron’s knock of 79 enabled her to gain 13 places to move to the 23nd rank among the batswomen and Marizanne Kapp gained two places to move to the 22nd rank.
Other gainers were in the form of Indian skipper Mithali Raj gaining one place to move to the second position in the batting rankings. Bangladeshi captain moved four places to reach to the 31st rank. Pakistan’s Nain Abidi moved two places to the 26th rank while the Indian opening pair of Deepti Sharma and Thirush Kamini gained 17 places to move to the 38th rank and 11 places to the 41st rank respectively. Both if them achieved their career-best rankings.
Pakistan’ skipper Sana Mir gained two places to move to the seventh in the bowling rankings and Indian spinner Ekta Bisht moved three places to the eleventh.
South African leggie Suun Luus moved six places to the 28th rank and Bangladeshi skipper Rumana Ahmed moved up four places to the 29th rank. Sri Lankan skipper too attained five places and have moved up to the 33rd rank among the bowlers. All these players have attained their career best rankings.
(With inputs from an ICC Media release)