Chamari Athapaththu of Sri Lanka

Group 1 Preview: Who are favourites and can the underdogs spring a surprise?

Five teams will compete for two semi-final spots, with Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka making up a fascinating Group 1.

According to the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Rankings, five teams are in the sort of form that puts them clear of the rest in world cricket right now. And three of them are in Group 1 at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

Three into two doesn’t go, so which of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will miss out? Or could Sri Lanka or the rapidly improving Bangladesh spring a surprise?

The Schedule

South Africa and Sri Lanka get the tournament underway in Cape Town, with a massive trans-Tasman clash also coming early in the group stage.

The Favourites

Australia are ranked number one in the world, are the defending Women’s T20 World Cup champions, and the favourites to claim the title once again.

For more on just why Australia are so good, check out the ICC’s Ultimate Form Guide.

But it is not a foregone conclusion that the Aussies will top Group 1.

They have been beaten twice by fellow Group 1 side New Zealand in this World Cup cycle, were taken to a super over by India late last year, and slipped to a warm-up loss to Ireland ahead of the tournament.

The Other Main Contenders

New Zealand slot in at number three in the world rankings coming into the tournament and possess some of the most dangerous players at the tournament.

Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr would get into most if not all other teams competing in South Africa, and if they fire they will take some stopping in that race for a top two spot.

Video Women’s T20 World Cup 05 Feb 23
Excited South Africa ready to perform | ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023
Excited South Africa ready to perform | ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023

Tournament hosts South Africa have been closing the gap on the world’s best in recent years. They reached the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup three years ago, and in 50-over cricket have made the final four in each of the last two World Cups, beating New Zealand and eventual finalists England en-route to the semi-finals a year ago.

There is quality throughout the Proteas line-up, and they will be eyeing a semi-final berth once again.

The Outsiders

Sri Lanka are yet to reach a Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final, but signs are good going into this tournament.

The Lankans looked in decent touch in the warm-up games, and have greater strength with the bat to take some of the pressure off the outstanding Chamari Athapaththu.

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Slick Sri Lanka ahead of South Africa | Women's T20 World Cup 2023

Bangladesh are ranked the lowest of all five teams in Group 1, but are showing some encouraging signs.

Three youngsters from the U19 squad that performed so well in South African conditions last month are included in the senior set-up, with Marufa Akter, Shorna Akter and Disha Biswas making the step up.

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Tigresses take on ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023

Of those, the new-ball threat of Marufa adds an interesting weapon to the Tigresses arsenal.

A recent 3-0 T20I series defeat to New Zealand is not a great sign of Bangladesh’s prospects, but they have the quality to upset the odds if things click.

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Time to #TurnItUp | ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023