The ICC Women’s World Cup 2020 is all set to begin on Friday, starting two weeks of high-octane cricket action in Australia.
The tournament includes 10 teams divided into two groups of five each. The format will see all teams in a group play each other with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals.
Group A is packed with big guns, with defending champions Australia, India and New Zealand all considered favourites for the trophy. Group B contains former winners England and West Indies as well as dark horses South Africa.
The round of warm-up matches have given teams final chances to tune up ahead of the big event as Australia and India get the highly-anticipated seventh edition of the event underway in Sydney on Friday.
Here’s a look at how all ten teams are shaping up ahead of the tournament.
Let’s not pretend Australia can’t handle expectation - they’ve been doing that for a decade. But the goldfish bowl of a home World Cup is hard to replicate.
Coach Matthew Mott has a Swiss army knife of a bowling attack, with the artistry of Ellyse Perry, the destruction of Megan Schutt and the wiles of Jess Jonassen combining with fine wrist and finger spin options.
Alyssa Healy needs a big score to find form again and Tayla Vlaeminck’s injury is a blow to the side but with Beth Mooney in fine fettle and Meg Lanning at the helm, Australian crowds will be treated to a team at the top of their game.
The signs are positive for Harmanpreet Kaur’s youthful side, hoping to win the event for the first time after semi-final showings in 2009, 2010 and 2018.
Any team that can chase down 173 against Australia has to be viewed as a serious contender and a top four of Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Kaur is arguably the tournament’s deadliest.
They’ll hope the warm-up batting form of Deepti Sharma and Shikha Pandey continues to balance out their side, and a spin-heavy attack finds assistance.
With a heady blend of youth and experience and an energising new captain in Sophie Devine, New Zealand are in good health heading into the T20 World Cup.
The return of Lea Tahuhu gives their bowling X-factor from a pace perspective, and the stardust leg-spin sprinkles on tournament play will be provided by teenager Amelia Kerr.
Alongside a batting line-up graced by Suzie Bates, the highest run-scorer in the event’s history, and in-form Devine, the White Ferns have most bases covered.
Perhaps the biggest movers in the warm-up matches, Sri Lanka’s ten-wicket success over England suggests they can carry clout in Group A.
Chamari Atapattu looks capable of handling the burden with bat and ball and Shashikala Siriwardena does the same, while Hasini Perera is a fine stroke-maker.
They are in with some big fish but Sri Lanka will believe they can spring a surprise and reach the knockout stages for the first time.
Bangladesh are going where they’ve never gone before in this World Cup, having never played Australia or New Zealand in a T20I or toured Down Under.
Batting firepower is a concern, with much resting on 23-year-old keeper-batter Nigar Sultana and all-rounder Rumana Ahmed who both have Women’s Big Bash League experience.
Nahida Akter spearheads a spin-heavy attack and Ritu Moni will have to do plenty of heavy lifting with pace on the ball.
They showed their ability to spring a surprise by beating India twice at the Asia Cup in 2018, and will have their work cut out to produce another shock of that scale.
This is a mercurial England team but one that remains capable of dominant performances, led by an exceptional skipper in Heather Knight.
Danni Wyatt will get them off to flying starts and artistry of Nat Sciver and Knight in the middle overs will help them access totals of above 150, while Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt are masters of the seam art.
Finding the right blend in the middle order is now the key as new coach Lisa Keightley hopes to engineer a second T20 World Cup win.
Not much is expected from South Africa at this World Cup, a rarity that will suit Dane van Niekerk’s side down to the ground.
When their bowling battery is on song, it tears the world’s best batting line-ups asunder - shown in the way they skittled India for 70 in Surat last year and accounted for Australia’s top order inside six overs this week.
There are few more terrifying sights than Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Sune Luus on song in tandem and as long as the runs continue to flow from Van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee, they’ll be a big threat. And watch out for Chloe Tryon.
Serial semi-finalists West Indies are almost an unknown quantity in terms of form with a succession of star players, including captain Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin, having missed long periods with injury of late.
With eight players returning from their unforgettable 2016 final triumph and 11 from the squad that campaigned on home soil in 2018, they are one of the tournament’s most settled outfits, even if out of form.
If Dottin is fit to bowl, Hayley Matthews hits her straps and youngsters such as Aaliyah Alleyne complement the seasoned core, they’ll be bearing down on the final four before you know it.
Thailand’s story is a heart-warming one but Group B opponents will know they aren’t to be underestimated as a highly experienced and cohesive T20I team.
No nation has played as many T20Is as them in the last two years and Sornnarin Tippoch knows exactly how to motivate her players for the big occasion, shown in their performances at the Qualifier event.
Nattaya Boochatham took more wickets than any other bowler in the format in 2019 and with Natthakan Chantam dangerous at the top, Thailand will be great to watch at the World Cup.
An intriguing prospect, Pakistan now have the experience of six T20 World Cups under their belt and will fancy their chances of winning multiple games in Australia.
They have totally revamped their top order from the 3-0 series defeat to England, with uncapped 15-year-old Ayesha Naseem set to join experienced campaigner Javeria Khan in the opener slot.
It remains to be seen where the wickets are coming from, but another debutant in 16-year-old leg-spinner Syeda Arooba Shah should be one to watch.
With Inputs from ICC Media