Dubai, Jan 24:
Mithali Raj will be leading the Indian women’s cricket team in the ICC World Cup qualifier scheduled to be held in Colombo from February 7-21.
It will be a 10-team competition. India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka are among the leading sides participating in the tournament, which will decide which four teams get a chance to play in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 from 24 June to 23 July in England and Wales.
The top four sides will also earn places in the second edition of the ICC Women’s Championship, while the fifth and sixth placed sides will secure ODI status for the next four years.
Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies have already qualified directly for the pinnacle tournament after finishing among the top four in the ICC Women’s Championship, which concluded in November 2016.
India, which has been clubbed along with Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand in Group A, is the top side in the Colombo tournament at fifth rank and boasts a number of top players.
Pace bowler Jhulan Goswami is the top-ranked bowler in the ODI rankings while captain Mithali Raj is ranked third among batters.
Sixth-ranked South Africa is the leading side in Group B, which also has Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea.
Leading South Africa players include medium-pace bowler Marizanne Kapp, who is ranked fourth, and batters Lizelle Lee (11th), Mignon de Preez (17th) and captain Dane van Niekerk (18th).
For Pakistan, captain and off-spinner Sana Mir is ranked ninth among bowlers, Bismah Maroof is the team’s top ranked batter in 10th place while Javeria Wadood is ranked 14th.
For Sri Lanka, Chamari Athapaththu is the top-ranked batter from her side at 22nd slot while left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera is the leading bowler at 35th rank.
In the inaugural ICC Women’s Championship, Lizelle Lee of the South Africa was the ninth leading run-scorer with 616 runs at just under 31, Pakistan’s Javeria Khan was 10th with 605 runs at under 38, Sri Lanka’s Athapaththu was 12th with 591 runs at under 30 and India’s Mithali Raj was 15th with 535 runs.
Amongst the bowlers in the ICC Women’s Championship, India’s left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad was the fourth most successful bowler with 25 wickets, followed by Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera (fifth with 24 wickets), South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp (eighth with 23 wickets) and Pakistan’s Sana Mir (13th with 20 wickets).
According to the event format, each side will play four matches in the first round, following which the top three sides from each group will progress to the Super Six stage, while also carrying forward points they earn against sides which have progressed to the Super Six stage from their group.
The top four sides from the Super Six stage, in which each side will play three matches against teams from the other group, will complete the eight-team line-up for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, while the top two sides will battle out for the title in the 21 February final.
India: Mithali Raj (captain), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Sukanya Parida, Deepti Sharma, M D Thirushkamini, Devika Vaidya, Sushma Verma and Poonam Yadav. Coach: Purnima Rau (PTI)