Women’s CWC begins on March 4

Tauranga, March 3 : ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 is finally here, with the hosts New Zealand to take on West Indies in the curtain raiser at the Bay Oval on Friday. The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in 2021 but was postponed by one year due to Covid-19 pandemic. On December 15, 2020, the ICC confirmed that the World Cup will take place from March 4 to April 3, 2022. Christchurch will host the final but before that there are 30 matches for the eight teams to get through. For Kiwis, they have the chance to join the legends of the 2000 World Cup as an Emily Drumm-led side defeated Australia in a nail-biting final the last time the tournament was held in New Zealand. The White Ferns have not won a 50-over World Cup since but are buoyed by a mammoth nine-wicket win over Australia in their final warm-up game. It was significant because Australia are among the favourites and have the chance to stretch their record number of tournament wins to a magnificent seven, with their most recent victory coming in 2013. In the opening stages of the tournament, venues will be filled up to 10 percent of the capacity. The crowd limit could be increased as the tournament progresses. It will be the second time that the Decision Review System (DRS) will be used in Women’s ODI World Cup. Each team will have two unsuccessful reviews per innings. During the 2017 edition, the DRS was available but only for a handful of games and only one unsuccessful review per team was allowed. Australia head into the World Cup as the No.1 ranked side in the ICC Team rankings and have lost just one ODI in their past 30 games, with the defeat to New Zealand not a one-day international. Australia’s first game takes place on March 5, when they face holders England in Hamilton in one of the high-profile games of the tournament. However, on the eve of the tournament, the Australian camp was hit by Covid-19, with Ashleigh Gardner returing with a positive test. The tournament will be played in a managed environment, instead of strict bio bubbles and daily Covid-19 tests. With all eight teams playing each other once, getting off to a good start can be crucial as the top four sides in the table advance to the semi-finals. England can be safe in the knowledge that they lost their opening game of the 2017 World Cup and went on to take a dramatic victory over India in the final. A win would count for two points, while a tie would fetch each team one point. The super over will not be used for a tied match in the round-robin stage. If two teams are tied on points after the round-robin stage, the net run rate will decide who qualifies. If the teams are tied on NRR too, then the head-to-head will be the deciding factor. An unlimited super over, until a clear winner emerges, will be used in case the semi-final and/or final is tied. They are one of three teams to win the World Cup, alongside Australia and New Zealand, and another triumph this year would be their fifth in total – and the first time they have successfully defended it. India are one of only two other teams to reach the final, having done so in 2005 and 2017. Skipper Mithali Raj played in both matches and has been a World Cup regular since 2000, and is back to lead the side again. For India, victory would be vindication for their continual development over several years as the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma continue to cement their position as some of the world’s best. Like England and Australia, India kick off their campaign against rivals Pakistan, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament. Pakistan have finished bottom in all but one of the four World Cups they have appeared in, a high-point their fifth place at the 2009 edition. Their side is in transition but with victory over New Zealand in a warm-up game, Pakistan showed that anything is possible in what could be the most unpredictable World Cup ever. One rung above them in the rankings are West Indies, a team that encapsulates both youth and experience. Anisa Mohammed will play in her fifth World Cup as captain Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin once again feature in maroon. West Indies will also be able to call on newbies including Aaliyah Alleyne and Cherry-Ann Fraser, two of the five potential World Cup debutants as they search for a first title having fallen at the final hurdle in 2013. Saturday’s early game of the opening weekend sees South Africa take on Bangladesh with the latter appearing in their first-ever World Cup. Nigar Sultana Joty will lead out her side in Dunedin, one of six venues for the tournament with Wellington and Auckland also hosting games, to make history as the 15th side to play in a World Cup. Bangladesh are not here to make up the numbers, as the No.6 side in the world they will be hoping to make an impression and are yet to play Australia, England and New Zealand in ODIs so also have the element of surprise. They open with a familiar opponent in the Proteas who will be led by Sune Luus in place of the injured Dane van Niekerk, who will leave a massive hole. South Africa arrive in New Zealand in impressive form having won their recent series against West Indies while their players continue to light up domestic leagues around the world. They are ranked second in the world and face India in the final game of the round-robin stage, a match that could decide the make-up of the semi-finals. The winner of the World Cup will take home USD 1.32 million, double of what was set for the 2017 edition. The overall prize money has also been increased by 75 percent. The runners-up will take home USD 600,000, while the two losing semi-finalists will receive USD 300,000 each. The four teams that don’t make it out of the league stage will be awarded a total of USD 70,000. Between now and the final, dreams will come true, stars will be made and surprises will be sprung as the World Cup 2022 takes New Zealand and the world by storm. Indian viewers and fans can catch all the action from March 4 at 6:30 AM IST onwards, live and exclusive on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar.

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