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International Cricket - Cricket: 2022 Women's World Cup preview

The 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup gets underway on Friday, but which team will emerge triumphant in New Zealand?

It is five years since the last staging of the World Cup when England claimed their fourth title on home soil after beating India in a pulsating final at Lord's.

Heather Knight will be hoping to inspire her team to defend that title this year at odds of 5/1, but Australia, South Africa and hosts New Zealand will be among the sides trying to stop England in their tracks.

Tournament sticks to 2017 format

This year's World Cup will follow the same format as the 2017 edition, with the eight qualified teams competing in a league format with every country facing each other once.

The top four teams following the conclusion of the league format will go through to the semi-finals, with the winners of those matches meeting in the final at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 3rd April.

In total, 31 matches will be contested across 29 days, with the tournament opener seeing hosts New Zealand face off against West Indies at the Bay Oval on Friday.

England's first match will come the following day against old rivals Australia in Hamilton. A contest that could very well end up being the final as well.

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Australia the team to beat

Australia are the most successful team in the history of the Women's World Cup, winning the tournament a record six times, most recently in 2013, and they can be backed at 4/5 to add another title this year.

The Aussies certainly appear to be heading into the tournament in good form, as they comfortably beat England in all three of their ODI clashes during this year's Ashes - results that contributed to Meg Lanning's side easing to a series success.

Lanning will lead her side into the World Cup and she is priced at 5/1 to end the tournament as the leading runs scorer, while team-mate Alyssa Healy, who top scored for Australia during the ODI clashes with England, is available at 13/2.

Australia's bowling attack, led by Megan Schutt, also appears strong, and it is difficult to look beyond the Aussies at least making the final at odds of 4/11.

England leading chasing pack

England are the only other nation besides Australia to have won the Women's World Cup more than once and the core of the side that were crowned world champions in 2017 remains.

That includes captain Knight and 2017 player of the tournament Tammy Beaumont, who is priced at 12/1 to replicate her achievement of five years ago by finishing the World Cup as the leading runs scorer.

The reigning champions will be scarred slightly by their comprehensive Ashes loss to the Aussies, but they did bounce back from that setback with a convincing World Cup warm-up victory over Bangladesh on Monday - Nat Sciver producing an impressive knock of 108 off just 101 balls in that one.

England will be keen to defend their title, but South Africa are also tipped to do well at 12/1, as they boast one of the fiercest bowling attacks in the competition, spearheaded by Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka.

New Zealand are the only nation other than England or Australia to have tasted World Cup glory before and home advantage may help their quest at odds of 11/2, while India are 8/1 to go one step further than they managed in 2017.

Any chance of an outside winner

West Indies reached the World Cup final in 2013 and they are 20/1 to be crowned champions this year, although a comprehensive warm-up defeat to Australia came off the back of a series loss to South Africa, which may leave confidence low.

The Windies must also face New Zealand, England, India and Australia in their opening four matches of the finals, meaning their tournament could be as good as over before it even truly gets going.

Pakistan and tournament debutants Bangladesh make up the rest of the finalists, but at odds of 66/1 and 100/1 respectively to win the tournament, neither side are expected to go far.

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