South Africa’s historic ODI series sweep in New Zealand has ensured its direct qualification for the 2021 World Cup. Currently, sitting third on the points table after raking in 6 crucial points from the clashes, they have put fourth-placed India in a dicey position. India stands on the fringes of having to play the Qualifiers.
ICC charted a new qualification pathway in October 2018 for both men’s and women’s World Cups, allowing the top four teams on the table to secure direct qualification to the 2021 World Cup and the bottom three to secure their place via Qualifiers. The top-four on the table and the hosts earn a direct ticket.
As per the current standings, bottom-placed Sri Lanka and West Indies will have to play the Qualifiers. New Zealand is sixth on the current points table with three fixtures remaining against Sri Lanka. However, they gain direct qualification as they are the hosts. South Africa winning all three ODIs on their tour to New Zealand, and hence procuring all six points on offer in the ICC Women’s Championship 2017 -20 have fixed their stay at the third spot, displacing India. The Dane van Niekerk led side have three more games in hand, against Australia who have already qualified with 34 points and are at the top of the table. South Africa, however, under any circumstances cannot drop below their third spot even if they lose all three matches against Australia, a series due for April.
ICC Women’s Championship, 2017-20: Points table (As of January 30, 2020)
The root of the problem lies with arch-rivals India and Pakistan who have 20 and 16 points respectively. Their next fixture has to be a bilateral series against each other. But with the BCCI taking a firm stance of not playing against Pakistan, neither at home nor away or at a neutral venue, due to longstanding political tensions between the two neighboring countries, the three games and six points could be considered ‘forfeited by India’ yet again. A similar set of events took place in the 2014-16 cycle as well, when BCCI had declined PCB’s invitation for the series, eventually leading ICC to award all six points to Pakistan.
Again if ICC rules in favor of Pakistan which seem very likely, the Women in Green will gain six crucial points and secure their seats in the 2021 World Cup with 22 points. Mithali Raj’s team with 20 points would finish in the bottom three and will grind through the Qualifiers yet again.
Hence, the Indian side waits with bated breath for the BCCI’s decision on the bilateral series with Pakistan followed by an ICC ruling on the matter. A cruel twist of fate for the Indian side could very well push the previous editions’ silver medalists into the lurk.
The Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2020 will be held in Sri Lanka. The bottom-three sides from the ICC Women’s Championship table will play with Bangladesh, Ireland and the winners of the continental regional qualifiers, to decide three remaining teams for the 2021 Women’s World Cup.
News Source: Purnima Malhotra / Cricbuzz