The 100-day countdown for the ODI world cup in New Zealand will mark Day 0 i.e. 21st November 21, 2021, for the Qualifiers for the same World Cup starting from 04 March 2022. The equation is not so simple. There is a lot at stake for the nine national teams who are participating in this qualifier. They will be playing for two key opportunities.

Firstly, the top 3 teams from the qualifiers will have an immediate shot at destiny as they join the 5 confirmed nations for the ICC Women’s ODI Cricket World Cup to be played in New Zealand. On top of that, the other incentive for the top 5 teams is to be a part of the 10-team ICC World Championship for the next three-year cycle. Nine teams are set to feature in the tournament. Unfortunately, Papua New Guinea, who were about to take part, was forced to pull out after a COVID outbreak in the camp.

The five nations that have already confirmed their birth are Australia, England, India, New Zealand and South Africa. These 9 qualifying nations are divided into 2 groups as Group A and Group B. Group A consists of Ireland, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and the Netherlands, while Group B includes Zimbabwe, Thailand, Pakistan, USA and Bangladesh.

The T20 format is still the most played format in women’s cricket and newly evolving cricket playing nations are surely short of experience in playing this longer format. Of the 5 teams in Group B, Thailand and USA are yet to play their debut international ODI match. Zimbabwe who opened their ODI account with a win has got good practice as they played 7 matches this year and have lost all the remaining matches.

The promising Bangladesh team is having a short but successful year till now. They played 3 matches against the beginner Zimbabwe team and have won all three. Pakistan, being the most experienced of them, have played 11 matches this year against stronger teams like WI and SA. This year they have won only 2 matches out of the total 11 they played, but they did show some good form and fight in their matches.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe started their ODI journey with a bang. They managed to clinch a tough match against Ireland. That form didn’t really continue as expected. They lost the other series matches by a big margin and lost the series 3-1. The same story continued against Bangladesh and they lost the series 3-0. Not only did they lose the matches but failed to give a close fight. However, they still have the advantage of having 7 games under their belt compared to the USA and Thailand having even lesser experience in this format. Will have to wait and watch if their captain can script a fairytale for them.

Players To Watch Out:

The first and biggest name that comes to mind is captain Mary-Anne Musonda. Her century (114-ball 103) in a winning chase in Zimbabwe’s debut ODI match against Ireland was simply amazing. Zimbabwe will be banking on Loryn Phiri to continue her form and spin the results in their favour. Even though she hasn’t tasted much success in ODIs, her recent performance of 16 wickets in the tournament surely gives good hope to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe will also be looking forward to an all-round performance from Precious Marange. She has contributed consistently and just needs to up her game a bit more to get the match-winning stride.

Squad: Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Josephine Nkomo, Modester Mupachikwa, Precious Marange, Sharne Mary Mayers, Loryn Phiri, Nyasha Gwanzura Nomatter Mutasa, Loreen Tshuma, Nomvelo Sibanda, Chiyedza Dhururu, Esther Mbofana, Audrey Mazvishaya, Francesca Chipare, Christabel Chatonzwa

Bangladesh

Bangladesh will be one team with very high morale. They recently whitewashed Zimbabwe 3-0 in the ODI series. If they can pull out a stunner in their opening match against Pakistan they have a very good chance of making it through to the Super Six stage. They will rely on their experienced players to guide them past the young teams like Thailand and USA.

Players To Watch Out:

Bangladesh will rely on the experienced Rumana Ahmed to manage the run-scoring. She has been consistent in batting and at the same time contributing with the bowl too. They will hope to get good support from Fargana on the batting front. One of the key advantages for Bangladesh will be its strength with all-rounders. Salma Khatun, Fahima Khatun will be very useful to get the balance of the team right. Having Skipper and a batting wicket-keeper, Nigar Sultana behind the stumps is going to immensely help manage the game on the field. Their biggest challenge will be with the new ball, which doesn’t look too strong as Nahida Akter will be expected to hold the spin attack. She has is performing on the top level in any form of cricket and especially with an impressive average of 17.41 in ODIs.

Squad: Nigar Sultana (captain), Khadija-Tul Kubra, Fahima Khatun, Salma Khatun, Jahanara Alam, Fargana Hoque, Nuzhat Tasnia, Rumana Ahmed, Lata Mondol, Nahida Akter, Murshida Khatun, Ritu Moni, Fariha Islam, Sharmin Akter, Sobhana Mostary

Pakistan

Pakistan is the strongest contender from this group to make it to the next stage. The 3-0 loss against South Africa also saw some good performance and fight from the Pakistan team. Also against the West Indies they came back very strong and ended the series at 3-2. The team seems well balanced on paper and should just execute it right to take it through.

Players To Watch Out:

Bowling and Pakistan have always been a thing, and they continue with women’s cricket too. Pakistan will be banking on their two key seamers Diana Baig and Fatima Sana. The bowlers took 9 and 11 wickets in the series against SA and WI respectively. Another promising player for Pakistan is Aliya Riaz. Her performance lower in the batting order has helped Pakistan time and again. Her knock of 81 against South Africa and effectively 136 runs in the 3-match series was praised by all.

They look to have covered all departments well with wicket-keeper Muneeba Ali and Omaima Sohail also looking in good form. The spin department is backed by brilliant Anam Amin. Her recent 5 wicket haul against WI must have given her good confidence getting into the Qualifiers. Pakistan will hope their top order batters Ayesha Zafar and Captain Javeria Khan are able to give a good start at the top.

Squad: Javeria Khan (captain), Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali (wicketkeeper), Nashra Sundhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper) Traveling reserves: Aiman Anwar, Maham Tariq and Rameen Shamim.

Thailand

Thailand is growing very impressively in international cricket and is one of the most promising contenders for pulling up a few upsets in the tournament. They have managed to get some practice in the ODI format through an unofficial series against Zimbabwe and winning it 2-1. Their fielding will be one of the key ingredients for their success.

Players To Watch Out:

Nattkan Chantham is one batter who possess the talent to be a match-winner with her bat. She has been a top run-getter, has the best average and the strike rate for Thailand in the T20 format and the team will bank on her for longer innings to make it count. Similar will be the expectations from captain Naruemol Chaiwai as well. Another batting sensation is the wicketkeeper-batter Nannapat Koncharoenkai. She is performing great in the limited-overs format and should complement Nattkan and Naruemol in the game plan.

The standout name for Thailand surely is Nattaya Boochatham. The All-rounder was in great form against Zimbabwe. In addition to her hard-hitting capabilities, her off-spinners will be very crucial to take Thailand in the Super Six stage. She has shown good promise against the experienced SA team as well. Another player to watch out for in the middle overs will be Chanida Sutthiruang. She is quite good at the economic rate and her medium pacers and cutters might be very effective to restrict and block the scoring of the opponents.

Squad: Naruemol Chaiwai (C), Chanida Sutthiruang, Thiapatcha Putthawong, Nannaphat Chaihan, Banthida Leephatthana, Nattakan Chantham, Suleeporn Laomi, Sornnarin Tippoch, Rosenanee Kanho, Wongpaka Liengprasert, Phannita Maya, Nattaya Boochatham, Onnicha Kamchomphu, Nannapat Koncharoenkai (VC), Kanyakorn Bunthansen

United States of America

USA is probably the most inexperienced side in the ODI format. They also happen to be the youngest team around. At the same time, they have some very experienced players from Domestic and list-A cricket which makes it a perfect combination. In their T20 World Cup Americas regional qualifiers, the team has performed well and they will want to keep that momentum in mind as they enter the tournament as underdogs.

Players To Watch Out:

In the weather conditions in New Zealand, Tara Norris will be very effective and the USA will be looking for early breakthroughs the way she is seen bowling in the domestic season. Not just her own bowling but, she will have an additional responsibility to support and guide the inexperienced bowlers of the squad. Sindhu Sriharsha will have to use her experience in getting longer innings to set up a score for the bowlers to defend.

With the likes of Tara Norris, Gargi Bhogle and Anika Kolan to get some quick runs, Sindhu should get the anchor role right. Another advantage for the USA in a 50 over match will be their energy with the young guns in the team. 15-year-old Suhani Thadani and Anika Kolan while 18-year-old Gargi Bhogle has been very impressive in their game. Suhani Thadani’s consistency will beat down any formidable batting line-up.

Squad: Sindhu Sriharsha (captain), Shebani Bhaskar, Akshatha Rao, Uzma Iftikhar, Tara Norris, Anika Kolan, Chetnaa Prasad, Moksha Chaudhary, Sara Farooq, Isani Vaghela, Gargi Bhogle, Suhani Thadani, Lisa Ramjit, Geetika Kodali, Mahika Kandanala

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