Women's World Twenty20 2014 March 20, 2014

Australia the team to beat, young NZ challengers


Two-time reigning champions, Australia have been the team to beat in women's cricket over the last few years. They hold both the 20- and 50-overs titles, both of which were won in the subcontinent. While they have numerous matchwinners in the squad, allrounder Ellyse Perry perhaps the most talented of the lot. Opening batsman, Meg Lanning, is ranked the No. 1 in the world and current holder of the Belinda Clarke Medal - she is also Australia's captain in this format - while Holly Ferling, Julie Hunter and Rene Farrell offer excellent pace options alongside Perry. However, they haven't had the smoothest of preparations for this tournament, losing the Ashes at home on points (though they did win both limited-overs series 2-1) and wicketkeeper and former captain Jodie Fields to a combination of injuries. West Indies comfortably held them off in their most recent warm-up match and there is some uncertainty around the batting order.

Form guide: WWLLL (most recent first)

Strengths: They have some of the most formidable pace-bowling options in the game, and the fighting quality that Australia's teams have been traditionally known for. They have reached (and won) the final of the last three global tournaments.

Weaknesses: Spinners Erin Osborne and Jess Jonassen are more containing than penetrative. There is a sense that Australia still miss the presence of Lisa Sthalekar, who retired last year.

Player to watch: Nicole Bolton made a century opening the batting on ODI debut in January and could be a valuable player for Australia, although her T20 experience is currently limited.

World T20 history: Australia will be looking to complete a hat-trick of World T20 titles after finishing as champions in 2010 and 2012

New Zealand

Within nine days at the start of the month, New Zealand won four out of five games and now come into this competition as one of the in-form teams. They were losing finalists in 2009 and 2010 and Suzie Bates' side will be expected to give Australia a major challenge in Group A. South Africa, Pakistan and Ireland would have to play much better to beat New Zealand.

Last January, New Zealand beat Australia 2-1 in a T20 series in Melbourne but in the tri-series in Bridgetown in October, they won only one game. The latest turn in form should encourage them.

The squad has vastly experienced players like Bates, Sara McGlashan and Nicola Browne, along with newcomers like Felicity Leydon-Davis, Hayley Jensen, Maddie Green and the newcomer Georgia Guy. Bates and McGlashan will be expected to lead the batting, while medium-pacer Browne will be the key bowler.

Form guide: WWWWL (most recent first)

Strengths: The experience of Bates and McGlashan. The senior players will have to do a bulk of the work with help of Sophie Devine and the all-round abilities of Browne. They will also bank on the experience gathered from the World Cup in India last year.

Weaknesses: The inexperience of the side. Bates will have to get the best out of the youngsters.

Player to watch: The 24-year old Morna Nielsen offers New Zealand both left-arm seam and spin. New Zealand may need more of the latter in Bangladesh. She has 21 Twenty20 wickets with a best of 4 for 10, and has been highly economical in the matches earlier this month.

World T20 history: New Zealand were losing finalists in 2009 and 2010, and made it to the semi-finals of the 2012 edition before losing to England.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here