The wait is almost over. One thousand and sixty-eight days have passed since Australia defeated India in front of a sold-out Melbourne Cricket Ground to lift the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 and just one more remains until the battle to be crowned 2023 champions begins.

First-time hosts South Africa get the party started against Sri Lanka at Newlands on Friday, the first of 23 matches which will decide who sits on top of the world come February 26 back at the iconic Cape Town venue.

The contenders

The world has changed almost immeasurably since Australia won their fifth ICC Women’s T20 World Cup but the reigning champions’ status as the team to beat has remained a constant.

They may have stumbled against Ireland in a warm-up match this week but Meg Lanning’s side have remarkable depth and have been in imperious form in recent times, losing just once – via a super over – in the past 13 months.

Beaten finalists in 2020, India will be eager to go one better and lift this trophy for the first time. They have become used to conditions during a recent tri-series against South Africa and West Indies and include two members of the squad who are fresh from winning the inaugural ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

England, who won a hard-fought T20I series against India last summer, will hope to go deep while fellow 2020 semi-finalists South Africa have home advantage behind them.

New Zealand arrive in good spirits having enjoyed dominant series wins over two teams for whom the knockout stages would represent success, West Indies and Bangladesh, in recent months.

Sri Lanka go in search of building on their run to the Women’s T20 Asia Cup final but have not played since that final, Pakistan and Bangladesh are looking to qualify from the group stage for the first time and Ireland are back for the first time since 2018.

Players to Watch

Beth Mooney picked up Player of the Tournament honours in 2020 and remains a consistent source of runs at the top of the Australian order, while all-rounder Tahlia McGrath has become a key cog in their machine.

India’s Smriti Mandhana and South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt each have cover drives to turn heads in their armoury and are likely to be in the leading run-scorer conversation, along with the evergreen and in-form Suzie Bates of New Zealand.

England have been boosted by a seamless return to the international arena for Nat Sciver-Brunt, among the game’s leading all-rounders, and her teammate Sophie Ecclestone arrives ranked top of the ICC Women’s Rankings for T20I Bowlers.

Left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba looks ready to shine on home turf and, at 22, is one of several young stars aiming to make a name for themselves.

That list also includes eighteen-year-old duo Marufa Akter, Bangladesh’s exciting seamer, and hard-hitting Pakistan batter Ayesha Naseem, while Ireland skipper Gaby Lewis already has eight years of international experience behind her at the age of just 21.

Harshitha Samarawickrama is among Sri Lanka’s brightest hopes while West Indies will need experienced all-rounders Hayley Matthews – so influential when they won this competition in 2016 – and Stafanie Taylor to be at their best if they are to go far.


India’s matches (IST)

Sun 12 February 18:30, Newlands, Cape Town: India vs Pakistan

Wed 15 February 18:30, Newlands, Cape Town: India vs West Indies 

Sat 18 February 18:30, St George’s Park, Gqeberha: India vs England

Mon 20 February 18:30, St George’s Park, Gqeberha: India vs Ireland

India’s squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Richa Ghosh, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Radha Yadav, Renuka Thakur, Anjali Sarvani, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Shikha Pandey.

Reserves: Sabbhineni Meghana, Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh.

All the squads for the World Cup here

Key Matches

Group A stages several early blockbusters, with New Zealand set to give Australia a tough start to the defence of their trophy on February 11 before the White Ferns take on South Africa two days later in a match set to be crucial to both sides’ chances of qualification.

World Cup matches between India and Pakistan are never dull and February 12 is the date for the latest episode in Group B. India’s clash with England on February 18, meanwhile, could be pivotal in deciding who tops the group.

The semi-finals take place on February 23 and 24 before the final on February 26, with all three knockout games at Newlands to conclude what looks set to be a tournament to savour.

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 will mark the eighth edition of the competition with 10 teams battling for the title between 10th – 26th February.

Groups and format

This is the first time that South Africa will be hosting the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. The 17-day tournament will be played in Gqeberha, Paarl and Cape Town, which will be the venue for both semi-finals as well as the final.

Australia, the defending champions, start as the undoubted favourites. They have won the title five times, while England and the West Indies have each won once.

Group 1: Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Group 2: England, India, Ireland, Pakistan, West Indies

The top two teams in each group will progress to the semi-finals, with the final taking place on 26 February 2023.

Stat nuggets: 

  • Australia have been the most successful team, winning five of the seven editions of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup (2010, 2012, 2014, 2018, and 2020). They were also the runners-up in 2016. England (2009) and West Indies (2016) are the two other teams to have lifted the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup trophy. 
  • Australia have featured in the most number of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup matches. Their win percentage of 78.9% is higher than any other nation in the tournament (Matches – 38, Won – 30, Lost – 8). England are marginally behind Australia on that list with a win percentage of 72.7%. They have won 24 of their 33 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup matches.
  • One of the records that could be broken in the 200 mark. No team has yet breached the 200-mark in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. The highest total recorded, is South Africa’s 195 versus Thailand in 2020.
  • Ellyse Perry (AUS) has featured in the highest number of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup matches (36). She is set to become one of only 12 players to feature in all eight editions of the tournament.
— via SportRadar / ICC


Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town 

When the champions are crowned on February 26, they will lift the trophy in the iconic surrounds of Newlands.

Overlooked by the Table Mountain, Newlands is one of cricket’s most picturesque venues and the Cape Town suburb will host the final, as well as the opener and both semi-finals.

With a capacity of 25,000, atmospheres are set to be rocking across the 12 games that the ground will host in total, including four double headers during the group stage.

The action will get underway with hosts South Africa taking on Sri Lanka on February 10, while runners-up last time India will play two of their group games here.

Rivals Pakistan will be the first to face India in a mouth-watering match-up, before the West Indies are their opponents three days later.

Elsewhere in Group B, Ireland will play both Pakistan and the West Indies, before England take on Pakistan in the final group stage game on February 21.

In Group A, Bangladesh will take the Newlands pitch three times, as they face Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and then the hosts in South Africa’s legislative capital.

Whoever takes to the field in February will be hoping to write the latest chapter in the stadium’s World Cup history, with Brian Lara’s two huge knocks nearly 20 years ago among the standout moments to date.

Lara hit 116 runs from 134 balls as the West Indies beat South Africa by three runs, before an outstanding 73 off 40 to fire the Windies past Canada.

Newlands was also the venue for a young James Anderson’s four for 29 in a Player of the Match performance against Pakistan, while Sourav Ganguly hit 107 not out for India against Kenya.

Boland Park, Paarl 

Boland Park will host six matches across the group stage, with play getting underway in Paarl when Australia take on New Zealand before the White Ferns play hosts South Africa two days later.

The stadium will host three double headers, with England and the West Indies also in action alongside Australia and New Zealand on February 11.

England then take on Ireland two days later before February 19 sees New Zealand play Sri Lanka and Pakistan take on West Indies.

The six matches in 2023 is double the tally the 10,000 fans that can fit into Boland Park were treated to almost two decades ago, with just three matches during the 2003 Men’s Cricket World Cup.

Sachin Tendulkar top-scored for India as they beat the Netherlands in the first match despite Player of the Match Tim de Leede taking four for 35.

Sri Lanka then beat Canada by nine wickets as Prabath Nissanka shone with the ball, posting career-best figures of four for 12 before a Yousuf Youhana-inspired Pakistan beat Netherlands by 97 runs.

St George’s Park Cricket Ground, Gqeberha 

Reigning champions Australia will soon become familiar with St George’s Park, with three of their four group games taking place in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth.

Up to 19,000 fans will be packed in for a total of five matches and the action begins on Valentine’s Day, when Australia and Bangladesh will hope to feel the love from the Gqeberha faithful famous for its brass band.

Australia will then take on Sri Lanka and South Africa in Group A, before focus will switch to Group B as England take on India on February 18 and Ireland and India play the final game at St George’s Park two days later.

The venue played host to five matches during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 20 years ago, including a rain-affected semi-final between Australia and Sri Lanka, where eventual champions Australia won by 48 runs.

It also saw England beat Namibia thanks to Alec Stewart’s 60, despite Jan-Berrie Burger hitting 85 from 86 balls, while Australia emerged victorious against their oldest rivals England by two wickets as Andy Bichel took seven for 20.

All-female officiating crew

The International Cricket Council has named an all-female panel of match officials for the upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 in South Africa.

Three match referees and 10 umpires make up the 13-woman team in what is a landmark moment.

Three of those officials will be Indians. While match referee GS Lakshmi has been a regular, the two umpires will be Vrinda Rathi and N Janani.

Match Referees: GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa), Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka)

Umpires: Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline WIlliams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (New Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India), Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka)

With inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020

Note: The World Cup will be telecast on Star Sports and streamed on Disney+Hotstar in India