Ten teams will travel to South Africa for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, looking to follow in Australia’s footsteps and lift the coveted trophy. Three years later, Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy Having inspired Australia to win the title on home soil, they remain the team to beat. However, the nine teams will have other ideas, with just one change from the line-up in 2020 as Ireland take the place of Thailand, having come through a nail-biting qualifying tournament to book their place.
The first team to secure a place was South Africa as hosts, and they were joined in automatic qualification by the top seven teams in the world rankings on 30 November 2021.
This means Australia, defending champions India, the 2020 runners-up, as well as England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the West Indies, will all join South Africa in the tournament.
With two spots still up for grabs, 37 teams were scheduled to compete across five regional groups. The winners of these five regional qualifiers joined Thailand and Bangladesh, the two lowest-ranked teams, to compete in the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, the qualifiers.
The final place in the qualifiers went to the remaining highest-ranked teams that did not qualify through regional qualification, meaning Ireland joined a group with Bangladesh, Scotland and the United States.
In the other group were Zimbabwe, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and United Arab Emirates.
Nigar Sultana was outstanding for Bangladesh as they won all three of their group games, scoring 157 runs at an average of 78.5.
They were joined by Ireland in the semi-finals, who won by 19 runs against Scotland thanks in large part to Gabby Lewis’ 37-ball 66.
Group B saw a tough competition, with every team losing at least one match. Kelis NdlovuBat and ball performances were key in Zimbabwe’s first two wins against Papua New Guinea and Thailand.
Thailand qualified for the semi-finals with Zimbabwe, thanks to a 12-run win over PNG in a shootout in the last four. Nataya Buchatham was the hero as she took four for eight wickets.
Acting as the decider for the final two spots in South Africa, both semi-finals were thrilling affairs, with Ireland beating Zimbabwe by four runs.
After batting first at 137 for six, Ireland wanted five against Zimbabwe when they were 99 for three. But some tight bowling left Zimbabwe needing 15 runs from the last over and it proved too tall a task as Ireland grabbed a place in the main event, securing the final place in the qualifiers.
In the other semi-final, Bangladesh were handed a tough blow by Thailand after posting 113 for five in their 20 overs – even as captain Sultana fought back with 17 off 24 balls.
It proved enough though as Thailand quickly slipped to 13 for three and fell short of the required run rate. Nathakan Chantam’s 64 off 51 balls was not enough to bring them back as they were defeated by 11 runs.
Having already qualified, Bangladesh and Ireland met for the second time in the final of the tournament, with the same result as the Asian side went home by seven runs to win the tournament.
Champions Australia, hosts South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka alongside their prize in Group A of the tournament.
In Group B, Ireland are joined by England and India, the last T20 and ODI World Cup finalists respectively, as well as the West Indies and Pakistan.
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