It will be a tough call for the Sri Lanka Women’s cricket team in the high stakes USD 660, 000 winner’s prize and glittering trophy of the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup that kicks from June 24 to July 23. Sri Lanka will face New Zealand in the championship opener on Saturday at Bristol. Skippered by Inoka Ranaweera, it is a new look Sri Lankan side that of course, packs experience in the likes of former captains Shashikala Siriwardena and Chamari Atapattu, the opening batsman, the skipper Ranaweera and Chamari Polgampola. Players to watch will be Eshani Lokusuriya, Nipuni Hansika, and Prasadini Weerakkody. India will face England on the same day.
The Sri Lankans will need to shrug off the warm-up defeat to England, and mount an improved performance to outwit a strong New Zealand outfit. Sri Lanka lost to hosts England by eight wickets in the first warm-up few days ago at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield. In that bad spark, there were the plus points by the batting of Chamari Atapattu and Prasadini Weerakkody who put on a 51 run partnership ri Lanka was tottering at 42 for 5 wickets.
Altogether, eight teams, namely Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan are in the fray. Australia are the defending champions. They defeated West Indies in 2013 in a record sixth title. The championship will be worked off on a round-robin basis. The top four teams progress to the semi-finals which will be played at the Bristol County Ground, the County Ground in Derby, Grace Road in Leicester and the County Ground, Taunton. The finals will be held at Lord’s on July 23.
In keeping with the ICC’s strategy of enhancing the stature of women’s cricket, the game’s keepers had announced in May that the total prize money for the tournament would be USD 2 million, 10 times of the amount at stake in the 2013 edition.
The prize money filters down the ladder with the runner-up winning USD 330,000 and the losing semifinalists getting USD 165,000 each. Teams exiting at the group stage will get USD 30,000 each while each win in the group stage will earn a side USD 20,000.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-