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Abhishek Purohit and Alan Gardner
March 22, 2014
West Indies are probably the most improved side in women's international cricket, something that they displayed on the biggest stage when they made it to the final of the Women's World Cup 2013 before losing to a mighty Australian side. They have shown how a bit of support from the board can go a long way in producing a side that continues to make rapid strides. Since the last World T20, they have played the most matches in the format - 17. While they had a disappointing tour of New Zealand coming into the tournament, they won games against England and New Zealand before that at home. And they have already served notice of what they are capable of, shocking defending champions Australia after crushing South Africa in their warm-up games. Wicketkeeper-batsman Merissa Aguilleira leads a settled side with a core group of players who have been around for quite some time.
Form guide: LLLLW (most recent first)
Strengths: West Indies have two world-class batsmen in Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor. Their attack is varied and experienced, and spinners such as Anisa Mohammed and Shaquana Quintyne will be hard to tackle in Bangladesh conditions.
Weaknesses: They often rely too much on Dottin and Taylor, although the Knight sisters have shown signs of delivering on their promised potential in recent times.
Players to watch: Dottin is arguably the most powerful striker the women's game has ever had. She smashed an unbeaten 78 off 48 against Australia in the warm-up. Dottin often makes a mockery of the shorter boundaries used in women's cricket, hitting the ball into the stands. When she gets going, she bats at strike-rate unheard of in the women's game and can easily turn games in "a snap", as she's said before.
World T20 history: West Indies failed to reach the knockouts in 2009, but edged out England by two runs in 2010 to make the semi-finals, where they went down to New Zealand. They defeated New Zealand in 2012 before succumbing again at the semis stage, this time to Australia.
Form guide: LLWLT (most recent first)
Strengths: The batting looks strong. Edwards and Taylor are the two leading run-scorers in this format, while Lydia Greenway provides an accomplished middle-order presence (alongside excellent fielding).
Weaknesses: Offspinner Hazell brings plenty of experience and control to the attack but the back-up spinners, Rebecca Grundy and Jodie Dibble, are both yet to make their international debuts.
Player to watch: Tokyo-born allrounder Natalie Sciver became only the fourth woman to take a T20 international hat-trick against New Zealand last year. She bowls useful seam-up and is also a powerful batsman.
World T20 history: Winners of the inaugural World T20, England have since made it to only one final, losing to Australia in 2012.
India appear to be in familiar territory again - they are going into a world tournament in the subcontinent undercooked. At the Women's World Cup in 2013, they failed to make it even to the Super Six stage at home, crashing out with a shock defeat to Sri Lanka. The only opposition they have faced since then has been lightweights Bangladesh home and away, and Sri Lanka at home, which ended in another humbling series defeat, this time in T20s.
India have made an important change to their batting line-up for the tournament. Their best batsman and captain Mithali Raj will open the innings instead of coming in at her usual No 3 position. She has been in fine touch in the warm-up matches, making 42 in the win over Ireland and 53 in the defeat to New Zealand. The strategy will require Poonam Raut to move down to steer the middle order in the company of the vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur. Veteran seamer Jhulan Goswami, who has also shown superb form in the warm-ups, will lead the attack.
Form guide: WWWLW (most recent first)
Strength Along with Goswami's experience, India have got a battery of various types of spinners in Sravanthi Naidu, Poonam Yadav, Gouher Sultana and Archana Das, giving Raj a welcome conundrum of what combination to pick in helpful conditions. If they can avoid bunching themselves together, Raj, Raut and Kaur make for plenty of class through the line-up, with Goswami available to slog a few down the order.
Weakness As always, the dependence on Raj and Goswami, their two great players, with bat and ball. Also, the lack of any match practice against top opposition since the World Cup.
Player to watch Partnering Goswami with the new ball, young medium-pacer Shikha Pandey has taken three wickets each in the two warm-up games. She is said to have the ability to consistently bring the ball in, something not widely seen in the women's game. Smriti Mandhana, all of 17, has opened with Raj in the warm-ups, and is a gifted talent. She hit a double century in a domestic Under-19 one-dayer last year.
World T20 history Went down to New Zealand and Australia in the semi-finals in 2009 and 2010. Had a disappointing 2012 edition, where they lost all three group games.