150 players from 10 countries to feature at Women’s T20 WC

Melbourne, Feb 15 (IANS) Ten countries, which consist of 150 players, will be battling it out to reach the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 8, with Australia and India getting the Women’s T20 World Cup action underway when they meet at the Sydney Showground on February 21.

This year’s tournament will be the seventh edition of the T20 World Cup to be played, with 14 players set to continue their record of playing in every event since the inaugural competition 11 years ago.

One team will also be making history in the tournament, with Thailand qualifying for an ICC event for the very first time, giving all 15 of their players debuts on the global stage.

Australia go into their curtain-raiser with India as defending champions, and there’s a familiar look to their squad with 13 of the 15 having lifted the trophy two years ago.

Among them is Ellyse Perry, who boasts the honour of having appeared in all 32 of Australia’s matches in the tournament since making her breakthrough as a teenager in 2009.

Sophie Molineux, who took a break from the game during this season’s WBBL for mental health reasons, is included in Meg Lanning’s side, as is Annabel Sutherland, who made her debut in the recent tri-series with India and England.

India can likewise call upon an ever-present in their ranks, with Harmanpreet Kaur set to lead the team having done so in the West Indies two years ago.

Opener Smriti Mandhana is named her deputy, while 16-year-old Shafali Verma has been selected having impressed in the T20 Challenger Trophy.

Fellow Group A members New Zealand welcome Lea Tahuhu back to the squad, with the fast bowler and new mum taking time away from cricket having had her first child with teammate Amy Satterthwaite.

The squad will be led by the veteran Sophie Devine who, along with fellow White Fern, Suzie Bates, has featured in every T20 World Cup since its inception.

Their opening match will come on February 22 against Sri Lanka, led by Chamari Atapattu, with more than half of their squad reprising their positions from the last World Cup in the West Indies.

Meanwhile, Rumana Ahmed and Panna Ghosh are selected for Bangladesh, the former returning from a knee injury which kept her out of her side’s successful 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier.

They’ll be led by Salma Khatun, who has helped propel the Tigers to new heights over the past few years.

Group B features two of the three T20 World Cup champions, with England looking to complete the limited-overs double having been crowned World Cup champions in 2017.

Heather Knight continues her role as captain in both formats, with eight members of the squad that won at Lord’s selected for Australia.

Katherine Brunt, part of the victorious side in the inaugural T20 World Cup on home soil, earns a call-up, 16 years on from her international debut.

South Africa can once again call on Dane van Niekerk to lead an experienced squad in Australia, with 11 members also featuring in the West Indies in 2018.

Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee are expected to fire with the bat while Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp ensure that their fast bowling credentials will certainly be up to scratch.

Stafanie Taylor declared victory in 2016 as one of her proudest moments for West Indies — and the skipper can’t wait to try and repeat the trick in Australia.

She is one of four players whose World Cup roots span beyond a decade, with Deandra Dottin returning from a long injury lay-off while Lee-Ann Kirby returns after 12 years out of the international set-up.

Youth seems set to be the way forward for Pakistan, whose average age in the squad is just 24.8.

Bismah Maroof will bring the experience as captain with the likes of 15-year-old Ayesha Naseem and 16-year-old Syeda Aroob Shah excited for what they can produce on the big stage.

Australia 2020 will also welcome a new team into the fold with Thailand excited at the chance to make national history on the cricket field.

Never before have they been represented at an ICC event, with Sornnarin Tippoch receiving the honour of captaincy for this historic tournament.

In Nattaya Boochatham and Naruemol Chaiwai, they can boast the leading wicket-taker and run-scorer respectively in T20Is in 2019, keeping faith with most of the squad that saw them come through the 2019 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier.

With the start of the support period, any replacements in squads will need to be cleared by the ICC technical committee.

–IANS
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