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Players to watch in ICC Women's World T20 2018

Dubai | Thursday, Nov 8 2018 IST
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This November will see constellations descend on the Caribbean, with each team in the ICC Women's World T20 fielding multiple stars. The world's best players are the heart of this event, the first ever stand-alone Women's World T20. Some of the top players from all the teams who are likely to light up this competition: There are few players as dangerous as Alyssa Healy of Australia when she gets going, and her form off late has been stupendous. In the last two series Australia have played, she has five half centuries across eight international innings in both formats, one of them close to a hundred. With the likes of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry in Australia's middle order, Healy will have license to go for her shots from ball one in the Caribbean. Adapting to the conditions will be the challenge for her, both in front of and behind the stumps.

While all the talk is of how spinners are likely to be a big factor in the West Indies, one medium pacer might disagree. Megan Schutt already has a T20I hat trick this year, and she's been consistent enough to claim the No. 1 spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I rankings. With her ability to shape the ball in to the right hander, she's always a threat, and she has added a few changes of pace to her bag of tricks. If there's some grip on offer, watch out for that leg cutter.

Bangladesh will be brimming with confidence, coming into the Women's World T20 2018 as Asian Champions. Rumana Ahmed of Bangladesh played a critical hand in that title, with both wickets and runs against India. Having gained experience of the Women's Big Bash League through the ICC Rookie Program, she will add that value to the team as well. She's currently ranked sixth in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Player Rankings.

Her brisk start set up Bangladesh's first ever win against India, and she carried that form into the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifiers where she was among the top 10 run getters. Shamima Sultana also keeps wickets for Bangladesh, and will look to turn her habit of providing starts to something more substantial.

Tammy Beaumont of England recently helped write a record that may stand for quite a while. On the back of her maiden T20I hundred, England posted a total of 250 against South Africa in June. Her career numbers don't do justice to her talent, but her 2018 stats are more revealing. In 10 games, she averages 41 at a strike rate of 140. Having won Player of the Tournament in England's winning campaign in the 2017 Women's World Cup, Beaumont will now look to help her team establish their T20 credentials.

Sophie Ecclestone has been a key part of England's bowling line up over the past one year, and has taken 12 wickets from nine games in 2018. She was also the third highest wicket-taker in England's domestic Super League T20 competition. The 19-year old is already in her third year of international cricket, and is likely to be one of the rising stars of the tournament.

While there is much talk about Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur of India is well known on the circuit for her big match temperament, and seems to be peaking right in time for her biggest challenge as captain. She has scored more than 40 in her last four T20 matches, including three games against an Australia 'A' side with six internationals. With a new-look, younger squad at her disposal, expect her to express herself more freely in this tournament.

Having recently surpassed Jhulan Goswami as India's highest wicket-taker in T20Is, Poonam Yadav's leg spin will lead India's spin challenge. Known for the courage with which she consistently flights the ball, Poonam has also developed a googly over the past year and a half. Even as economy rates have risen in the past year, Poonam has been hard to score off, conceding just 5.65 per over in 20 games this year. She is currently ranked second among bowlers in the MRF ICC Player Rankings.

O'Riley of Ireland had a dream game in the final of the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier, taking four wickets and effecting a run out, but it was not enough to win Ireland the title. Her 11 wickets in the tournament, the highest, did ensure that they qualified though. The 18-year old will be eager to try out her medium pacers on the Caribbean wickets for the first time.

The 37-year old Clare Shillington was Ireland's most consistent batter in the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifiers, and helped them get into the final of that tournament, guaranteeing them a place in the West Indies. Up against stiffer opposition, she will be keen to help Ireland to a top eight finish, one of their goals for the tournament. In her last tournament, Shillington will look to leave international cricket with fond memories.

It's hard to keep Suzie Bates of New Zealand out of any list of outstanding players. She is the highest run-scorer in women's T20Is, sitting at the top of the select list of batters with more than 2000 T20I runs, and is also tied for most appearances, with 104. With captaincy duties now passing to Amy Sattherthwaite, Bates can focus fully on what she does best, score runs at the top of the order. She needs one more half century to equal Stafanie Taylor for the most T20I half centuries as well.

Modern T20 is tough on bowlers, but Lea Tahuhu stands out because of her express pace. Despite bowling often in the first six overs, she has a career economy rate of less than six runs per over. As one of the handful of fast bowlers who can swing the ball at pace, New Zealand will look to Tahuhu to provide early inroads with the white ball in hand.

Having been named captain even after the return of Bismah Mahroof from surgery, Javeria Khan of Pakistan has added responsibility on her in this World T20. But the right hander has shown glimpses of form, scoring well in all three T20Is against Bangladesh, as well as making contributions against Australia. She has a healthy average of 26 this year, and a strike rate that is well above her career numbers. In her first big assignment as captain, Pakistan's underdog status will play to her advantage.

The only Pakistani currently in the top five of the MRF Tyres ICC Women's Player Rankings, Anam Amin holds the fourth spot among bowlers. A rare haul of three wickets for no runs against Bangladesh in the recent T20 series underscored the value of the left arm spinner in the side. Used to opening the bowling for the side in the T20 format, Amin will be one player Pakistan would rely on for early control, and more if the pitch takes turn. With a career economy rate of just 4.83, she has gone even lowe this year, at just 3.69 runs per over.

South Africa captain Dane van Neikerk opens the batting for her team in T20Is and comes into the tournament in form. She was the highest run scorer in the ODI series against the Windies, with 176 runs in three innings. Considering that she has shots for every corner of the ground, she is especially dangerous in the first six overs. And with her leg-spin, she provides variety to a strong pace bowling unit.

Glance through the list of top 50 run scorers in women's T20Is, and Chloe Tryon's name languishes near the bottom. But her strike rate of 142.45 is unmatched. The next best from among that list strikes at 127. Which means that even if she's around for a couple of overs, Tryon can change the momentum of a match. One of the best hitters in the game, she could be the trump card the Proteas need to put in their best ever performance in a World T20.

Having led Sri Lanka to their first ODI win over India in five years in September, Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu will be keen to make an impact in what is her team's stronger format. Athapathu is the only Sri Lankan to have played in the Women's Big Bash League and England's Super League, and will certainly be the prize wicket for every opposition. As her 178 not out against Australia in the Women's World Cup 2017 showed, Athapaththu can single handedly destroy bowling attacks on her day.

Former Sri Lankan captain Shashikala Siriwardene was third highest scorer in the recent T20I series against India, and showed both intelligence and intent in every innings she played. While she will provide stability in the batting, the bowling the attack will revolve around her canny off-spin.Against India at home, she provided control even on flat pitches, and regularly troubled the left-handers. The second highest run scorer in Women's T20I history, Stafanie Taylor of West Indies also holds top spot among the all-rounders in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Player Rankings. With the experience of playing cricket in T20 Leagues around the world, Taylor's skills are already formidable. This tournament will test her temperament as a leader, with the added pressure of defending a title in front of a passionate home crowd.

The only player with more than 100 T20I wickets, Anisa Mohammed took her third career five-for in the recent series at home against the Proteas. The last three of those five wickets were a hat-trick, making Mohammed the second player to take one this year. On home pitches that could be spin friendly, expect the off-spinner to play a big part in the Windies' title defence.

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