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India have qualified for the 2021 Women's World Cup following a decision by the ICC's technical committee to split points for an ICC Women's Championship series against Pakistan that went unplayed. That series was originally scheduled to take place between July and November 2019, but it did not go ahead, in a climate of political tensions between the two neighbouring countries.
The ICC has also decided to split points for the South Africa-Australia and Sri Lanka-New Zealand series that have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"With respect to the India v Pakistan series, the TC (technical committee) concluded that the series could not be played because of a Force Majeure event after the BCCI demonstrated that it was unable to obtain the necessary government clearances to allow India to participate in the bilateral series against Pakistan, which forms a part of the ICC Women's Championship," the ICC said in the media release on Wednesday.
The technical committee comprises Geoff Allardice (ICC general manager of cricket), Chris Tetley (ICC head of events) and Jonathan Hall (ICC general counsel).
Faced with a similar scenario in 2016, the ICC's technical committee had awarded Pakistan full points for a similarly unplayed series against India. On this occasion, there was one difference that prompted the ICC to split points.
In 2016 the BCCI had neither responded in writing nor provided any explanation about why they could not play Pakistan. The technical committee hence went ahead and awarded full points to Pakistan.
This time around, the BCCI engaged with the ICC early on in this round of the Women's Championship, making its stand clear about why it could not play Pakistan in the ODI series scheduled in 2019. ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI made extensive submissions as early as 2018 demonstrating that it could not get the relevant permission from the Indian government to play Pakistan. That helped the ICC's technical committee to invoke the force majeure clause on this occasion.
Due to the splitting of points (three to India, three to Pakistan), India qualify as the fourth-placed team on the ICC Women's Championship table with 23 points, behind Australia (37), England (29) and South Africa (25). Had all six points gone to Pakistan, they would have qualified with 22 points, ahead of India with 20.
Pakistan instead finish with 19 points, just above sixth-placed New Zealand (17), who qualify for the World Cup automatically as hosts. West Indies (13) and Sri Lanka (5) bring up the bottom two spots.
The remaining three places at the World Cup are due to be decided in July's qualifying event in Sri Lanka, though the ICC confirmed that the dates for the tournament are "under review" on account of the pandemic.
The teams competing in that qualifier will be Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka (through the ICC Championship), Bangladesh and Ireland (through their ODI status), and the winners of the five regional qualifying tournaments: Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea, USA and Netherlands.