The West Indies have a chance to join Australia at the top of the ICC Women’s Championship table if they can blank Pakistan when they go head to head in round four of the ICC Women’s Championship, which starts in St Lucia today.
A 3-0 series victory would elevate Stafanie Taylor’s side, which currently lies a point clear of England in third position, to the top of the table. A 2-1 win for the hosts would also see them progress and leapfrog second-placed South Africa, and in that scenario Sana Mir’s team would also move up to fourth place. In the event of a 3-0 away victory for Pakistan, it would move into second place on 14 points.
In all, the sides will play four ODI’s in St Lucia, with the opening game today the only clash that will not count towards the ICC Women’s Championship, which is a qualifying tournament for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, which is being participated in by Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
The top four sides from the ICC Women’s Championship will gain automatic qualification for the event, which is to be staged in England, while the bottom four sides will get a final chance of qualification through the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in 2017. The tournament structure sees each team playing the others in one home or away series that will include three ODIs over a two-and-a-half year period, so each side is guaranteed at least 21 ODIs over the tournament period.
In welcoming Pakistan to the Caribbean ahead of the start of the series, West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor also outlined her side’s ambitions to progress up the rankings. “I would like to welcome Pakistan and we are extremely excited as we look forward with anticipation to this upcoming series,” she said.
“The ICC Women’s Championship has been an excellent initiative and it has given the top eight countries an opportunity to participate against each other. I know this series will be competitive; ultimately our aim is to move up the rankings and as such we plan to dominate at home, thereby achieving a clean sweep.”
Pakistan captain Sana Mir added: “We know that the West Indies will be difficult opponents, but we travel with confidence and we’re keen to get some points to enable us to move up the ICC Women’s Championship table. We have a good blend of youth and experience and it will be a superb challenge for our younger players, especially in conditions which are a whole lot different than what we are used to.
“The West Indies are a strong side with some outstanding individuals right across their team. You only need to look at their standing in the rankings to see that. So it will be a good test and one we’re indeed excited about it.”
In the ODI rankings for bowlers, the top ten features three West Indies players with second-placed Anisa Mohammed holding a 13-point lead over off-spinner Taylor. Shanel Daley lies in 11th position and will be aiming to reduce Dane van Niekerk’s 11-point advantage, while Tremayne Smartt (18th) is three appearances short of the 50-cap mark and the only other player inside the top 20.
Pakistan duo Asmavia Iqbal and Nida Dar are tied for 22nd place, while the other bowlers set to feature in the series are Shakera Selman (22nd), Bismah Maroof (47th) and Anam Amin (48th), who trails Maroof by six points.
West Indies head into the series with the highest ranked batters with sixth-placed Taylor and Deandra Dottin (ninth). The highest ranked Pakistan batter is Bismah Maroof (12th) whose next ODI will be her 75th appearance for her country. Other batters who are likely to feature in the series are Kycia Knight (28th), Nain Abidi (31st) and Hayley Matthews (35th). In total, 28 points and six places separate Merissa Aguilleira (42nd), Sana Mir (44th) and Asmavia Iqbal (48th) who will all be eyeing an improvement in their rankings.
Taylor continues to lead the all-rounders’ ranking and holds a strong advantage over Australia’s Ellyse Perry.