A pulsating last-ball thriller provided a fitting finale to the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017, an important tournament that brought together 10 teams in a testing format that impacts the teams’ progression in the coming months and years.
India’s stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s superb run-a-ball 41 in the final against South Africa showcased the potential thrills that women’s cricket can offer even as the qualification process had been sorted out before the match.
India and South Africa, ranked fourth and sixth respectively, on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s Rankings, ensured places in the ICC Women’s World Cup and the ICC Women’s Championship even before the last round of the Super Six stage while Sri Lanka and Pakistan were the other teams to advance.
These four now join Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies, who had already booked places in the pinnacle event to be held in England and Wales from 24 June to 23 July by finishing in the top four of the ICC Women’s Championship.
India was the only unbeaten team in the tournament while both of South Africa’s losses came to India, the one-wicket defeat in the final having been preceded by a 49-run loss in the Super Six stage. In a notable result, Sri Lanka upset Pakistan by three wickets in the Super Six to qualify ahead of its opposition, reflecting the shrinking gap between teams.
Pakistan also had a forgettable outing against India when it was bowled out for 67, but in the end, it did not dent its chances of qualification. This match was among the nine to be live-streamed at icc-cricket.com.
Bangladesh and Ireland retained their ODI status for the next four-year cycle and had their moments and performances too while the tournament provided good exposure to the remaining four teams, which do not enjoy ODI status – Zimbabwe, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.
Scotland defeated PNG by seven runs in what was the closest match before the final, while Thailand batted its full 50 overs to score 172 for nine against Ireland and lost by 46 runs. Many players from the top sides acknowledged that these sides had been improving significantly and could gain with more exposure.
The matches featuring these four teams were not classified as ODIs but that did not stop other teams from performing to their best in them. Pakistan’s Javeria Khan topped the list of run-getters in the tournament with 299 runs while India’s left-handed opener and player of the final, Deepti Sharma, was second with 253 runs.
Pakistan leg-spinner Nashra Sandhu topped the bowlers’ list with 17 wickets while India’s left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht (13) and South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk finished with 13 wickets each in the tournament, played mostly on spin-friendly surfaces.
The performances in the ODIs has had a big impact in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings for Women which was last updated before the Super Six stage.
South Africa pace bowler Marizanne Kapp has rocketed to the top of the rankings, leapfrogging West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor and India pace bowler Jhulan Goswami. Kapp took six wickets from four matches during this period, including two wickets each in both matches against India. Goswami, who was ruled out of the tournament due to an injury, slipped from number one to third position.
Van Niekerk has continued her upward run to gain three slots and reach 12th position, while her team’s pace bowlers Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail have gained three and seven slots to reach 15th and 19th positions, respectively.
Bisht (up three places to eighth), India pace bowler Shikha Pandey (up 17 places to 22nd place) and Sri Lanka captain Inoka Ranaweera (up nine places to 24th) have all attained career-best rankings.
Van Niekerk has also gained in the batting rankings, moving up one place to a career-best 11th position while former captain Mignon du Preez has moved up by one ranking to 14th place. Javeria Khan has gained one slot to 17th position while Isobel Joyce of Ireland (up seven places to 33rd rank, South Africa’s player of the series Sune Luus (up 12 places to 34th) and Sharma (up three places to 35th) have all reached career-high rankings.
Van Niekerk has also broken into the top five among all-rounders, gaining two slots to reach a career-best fourth in the list led by Stafanie Taylor.
MRF Tyres ICC Women’s Rankings (as on 21 February)
Rank Team Points
1. Australia 128
2. England 122
3. New Zealand 119
4. India 111
5. West Indies 108
6. South Africa 90
7. Pakistan 76
8. Sri Lanka 67
9. Bangladesh 42
10. Ireland 34