ICC Women's T20 World Cup. Everything you need to know ahead of the tournament

The captains all have their eyes on the trophy as they prepare to go into battle in Sydney (PA Images)
The captains all have their eyes on the trophy as they prepare to go into battle in Sydney (PA Images)
16:43pm, Thu 20 Feb 2020
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The seventh edition of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup blasts into action in Sydney on Friday with a blockbuster opening match between defending champions and hosts Australia and the notoriously dangerous India.

Meg Lanning's Australian side will be entering into the tournaments as hot favourites, bidding to get their hands on the trophy for a fifth time.

However, there are nine top-quality sides standing between them and the victorious spot on the podium come finals day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 8 - International Women's Day.

Here's a run down of everything you need to know before the action gets underway:

The ten teams are split into Group A and Group B. Each team in a group will play each other once and the top two teams will advance to the semi-finals on March 5 at the SCG in Sydney.

The final is then scheduled for March 8 at the MCG and will be headlined by global superstar Katy Perry as the event aims to set an attendance record for a women's international event by selling out the 100,000 capacity stadium.

GROUP A

Australia were victorious in a tri-series with England and India leading up to the tournament (PA Images)

Australia (World No 1) - the defending champions and host nation enter the tournament as odds-on favourites to keep the trophy. They are bidding for their fifth title, having won four out of the six previous editions and were only prevented from making it three-on-the-trot when they suffered a shock defeat to the West Indies in 2016.

Best result: Champions (2010, 2012, 2014, 2018)

Squad: Meg Lanning (capt.), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (vice-capt), Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck (injured), Georgia Wareham, Molly Strano (replacing injured Vlaeminck)

Who to watch: Ellyse Perry. The golden girl of Australian cricket is the current ICC Women's cricketer of the year and dominated during the victorious Australian Ashes campaign last summer. Her skill with the bat and ball make her a force to be reckoned with.

First game: Australia v India: Friday February 21, Sydney Showground, Sydney

Bangladesh are hoping to make it beyond the group stages (ICC)

Bangladesh (World No 9) - The Tigresses comfortably came through the World Cup qualifiers in great form. They have shown a significant improvement since the last World Cup but are probably not strong contenders for a knock-out spot. They will be hoping to beat Sri Lanka and emulate their male counterparts by causing an upset along the way.

Best result: Have not advanced beyond the group stages.

Squad: Salma Khatun (capt), Ayesha Rahman, Fahima Khatun, Fargana Hoque, Jahanara Alam, Khadija Tul Kubra, Murshida Khatun, Nahida Akhter, Nigar Sultana, Panna Ghosh, Ritu Moni, Rumana Ahmed (vice-capt), Sanjida Islam, Shamima Sultana, Sobhana Mostary.

Who to watch: Ayasha Rahman - the prolific batter proved her class in the warm-ups game against Pakistan, scoring a 26-ball 25. She could be well suited to dry conditions across Australia and hoping the rain stays away.

First game: Bangladesh v India: Monday February 24, WACA, Perth

16-year-old Shafali Verma will play a key role in India's campaign (PA Images)

India (World No 4) - An all-round strong side with 16-year-old trump card Shafali Verma up their sleeve, this team is one to watch. Their middle order have been somewhat lacking in runs as of late but could pull it out the bag on the big stage.

Best result: Semi-finals (2009, 2010, 2018)

Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (capt), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Richa Ghosh,  Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Shafali Verma, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav.

Who to watch: Shafali Verma. At just 16-years-old Verma is playing in her first major international tournament but has thus far proved her ability beyond her years becoming the youngest Indian player to score an international fifty. Growing up she cut her hair short to pretend to be a boy so she could play cricket and is now one of the top batters in the cricket-mad country.

First game: India v Australia: Friday February 21, Sydney Showground, Sydney

New Zealand celebrate during a warm-up game ahead of the tournament (ICC)

New Zealand (World No 3) - The White Ferns are not to be overlooked. Boasting two of the best batters in the women's game, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates, at the top of the order, they could rack up some mega scores and challenge for a top spot.

Best result: Runner-up (2009, 2010)

Squad: Sophie Devine (capt), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin (wk), Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest (wk), Lea Tahuhu.

Who to watch: Suzie Bates - The former captain and all-rounder is one of the top batters in the women's game and no stranger to the big stage having also represented her country in Basketball at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

First game: New Zealand v Sri Lanka: Saturday February 22, WACA, Perth

Chamari Atapattu raises her bat as she reaches 50 against England in a warm-up game (PA Images)

Sri Lanka (World No 8) - A potential dark horse? They shocked England in the warm-up games with a sensational 10 wicket win and will be looking to continue that form into the tournament. However, should captain Chamari Atapattu fall cheaply, they could find themselves in a spot of bother.

Best result: Have not advanced beyond the group stages.

Squad: Chamari Atapattu (capt), Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Hansima Karunaratne, Achini Kulasuriya, Sugandika Kumari, Harshitha Madavi (vice-capt), Dilani Manodara, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Probodhani, Sathya Sandeepani, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Shashikala Siriwardene, Umesha Thimashini.

Who to watch: Chamari Atapattu - the captain led from the front scoring a half century during her side's 10-wicket thrashing over England in their final warm up game last week. Her knock seemed to inspire her team and it looks like she is peaking at the right time.

First game: Sri Lanka v New Zealand: Saturday February 22, WACA, Perth

GROUP B

England will be hoping to go one better than the runner-up place they achieved in 2018 (ECB Cricket)

England (World No 2) - The ODI World Champions are looking to squeeze another trophy onto display at Lord's. Having been annihilated by Australia in the 2018 final, Heather Knight's side are out for revenge.

Best result: Champions (2009)

Squad: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole (vice-capt), Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.

Who to watch: Katherine Brunt - a veteran of the England team, Brunt was a member of the squad to win the inaugural tournament in 2009 on home soil. Her gritty determination and competitiveness make her one of England's greatest bowlers of all time and her ability with the bat is always handy for making the tail wag.

First game: England v South Africa: Sunday February 23, WACA, Perth

Pakistan are hoping to pass the group stages for the first time (ICC)

Pakistan (World No 7) - the Pakistan team have flown under the radar in the competition having never advanced through the group stages. They entertained fans in the build-up to the tournament showing off their rapping skills and supporters will be hoping their musical talents can be emulated on the field with a relatively youthful side.

Best result: Have not advanced beyond the group stages.

Squad: Bismah Maroof (capt), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem,  Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Muneeba Ali, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk), Syeda Aroob Shah.

Who to watch: Bismah Maroof - the captain will have to lead from the front with what is an extremely young side. Her runs are integral to their success but the team has proven over-reliant upon her performances.

First game: Pakistan v West Indies: Wednesday February 26, Manuka Oval, Canberra

Marizanne Kapp will spearhead the South African bowling attack (PA Images)

South Africa (World No 6) - they boast an impressive batting line-up and could be in it for the long-run should their top order consistently deliver. A semi-final would be a great achievement for them but anything can happen in a tournament situation.

Best result: Semi-final (2014)

Squad: Dane van Niekerk (capt), Trisha Chetty (wk), Nadine de Klerk, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Tumi Sekhukhune, Nondumiso Shangase, Chloe Tryon (vice-capt), Laura Wolvaardt.

Who to watch: Marizanne Kapp - the prolific bowler is one of the best in the game and her deviant medium pace will benefit from the pitches that tend to be on offer in Australia. She showed her form in this week's warm up game against Australia where she took four for 16.

First game: South Africa v England: Sunday February 23, WACA, Perth

The Thailand women's team celebrate qualifying for their first major tournament (ICC)

Thailand (World No 11) - having already captured the hearts of cricket fans across the world, the Thai team are playing in their first World Cup after coming through qualification at the end of last year. Their abundant smiles and positive attitude is fast making them a fans' favourite.

Best result: Qualified for first time for 2020 tournament

Squad: Sornnarin Tippoch (capt), Nattaya Boochatham, Naruemol Chaiwai, Natthakan Chantham, Onnicha Kamchomphu, Rosenanee Kanoh, Suwanan Khiaoto, Nannapat Koncharoenkai (wk), Suleeporn Laomi, Soraya Lateh, Wongpaka Liengprasert, Phannita Maya, Ratanaporn Padunglerd, Thipatcha Puttawong, Chanida Sutthiruang.

Who to watch: Sornnarin Tippoch - the captain is a former softball player and did not take up cricket until she was 17. She is now leading from the front and steered her team to a 17-match winning streak before coming through qualifiers.

First game: Thailand v West Indies: Saturday February 22, WACA, Perth

The West Indian party in full swing after their shock victory in 2016 (ICC)

West Indies (World No 5) - always a dangerous side but have lost nine straight games leading up to the tournament. They stunned the other teams and took the title in 2016 and should Stefanie Taylor remain fit and on form they would hope to advance into the knock-out stages at least.

Best result: Champions (2016)

Squad: Stafanie Taylor (capt), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle (wk), Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Lee Ann Kirby, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed (vice-capt), Chedean Nation, Shakera Selman.

Who to watch: Stefanie Taylor - the captain has recently come back from injury but has been a prolific leader for the women's side and will be hoping to emulate their run of form from 2016.

First game: West Indies v Thailand: Saturday February 22, WACA, Perth

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