A pulsating last-ball thriller provided a fitting finale to the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017, an important tournament that brought together 10 teams in a testing format that impacts the teams’ progression in the coming months and years.
India’s stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s superb run-a-ball 41 in the final against South Africa showcased the potential thrills that women’s cricket can offer even as the qualification process had been sorted out before the match.
India and South Africa, ranked fourth and sixth respectively, on the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s Rankings, ensured places in the ICC Women’s World Cup and the ICC Women’s Championship even before the last round of the Super Six stage while Sri Lanka and Pakistan were the other teams to advance.
These four now join Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies, who had already booked places in the pinnacle event to be held in England and Wales from24 June to 23 July by finishing in the top four of the ICC Women’s Championship.
India was the only unbeaten team in the tournament while both of South Africa’s losses came to India, the one-wicket defeat in the final having been preceded by a 49-run loss in the Super Six stage. In a notable result, Sri Lanka upset Pakistan by three wickets in the Super Six to qualify ahead of its opposition, reflecting the shrinking gap between teams.
Pakistan also had a forgettable outing against India when it was bowled out for 67, but in the end, it did not dent its chances of qualification. This match was among the nine to be live-streamed at icc-cricket.com.
Bangladesh and Ireland retained their ODI status for the next four-year cycle and had their moments and performances too while the tournament provided good exposure to the remaining four teams, which do not enjoy ODI status – Zimbabwe, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.
Scotland defeated PNG by seven runs in what was the closest match before the final, while Thailand batted its full 50 overs to score 172 for nine against Ireland and lost by 46 runs. Many players from the top sides acknowledged that these sides had been improving significantly and could gain with more exposure.
The matches featuring these four teams were not classified as ODIs but that did not stop other teams from performing to their best in them. Pakistan’s Javeria Khan topped the list of run-getters in the tournament with 299 runs while India’s left-handed opener and player of the final, Deepti Sharma, was second with 253 runs.