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ICC Women's T20 World Cup Preview: Australia aim to hit rivals for six

The eighth edition of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup starts on Friday and Australia Women are hot favourites to claim a sixth title.

England won the inaugural tournament at Lord's in 2009, beating New Zealand in the final, but Australia have featured in every T20 World Cup final since then, winning five of them, and they are 8/15 for another triumphant campaign in South Africa.

WhatICC Women's T20 World Cup
WhereCape Town, Paarl and Gqeberha, South Africa 
WhenFriday 10th February to Sunday 26th February
How to watchSky Sports Cricket & Main Event
OddsAustralia Women 8/15, India Women 4/1, England Women 9/2, New Zealand Women 9/1, South Africa Women 25/1

Star-studded batting unit expected to fire for holders

Australia have fond memories of the last Women's T20 World Cup in 2020, when they thrashed India by 85 runs in front of more than 86,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Many of the key players from that success are still on the scene including the destructive Alyssa Healy, who scored 75 off 39 balls in the final, and fellow opener Beth Mooney - the leading run-scorer at the 2020 World Cup.

Healy clearly has a taste for World Cup finals, smashing 170 as the Aussies regained their 50-over world title by beating England in Christchurch last year, but the holders have dangerous batters all the way down their order.

Legendary skipper Meg Lanning has returned refreshed after a break from cricket last year and all-rounder Tahlia McGrath is top of the ICC T20 batting rankings thanks to some spectacular innings including an unbeaten 91 off 49 balls against England in Adelaide in January 2022.

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Australian players dominate the tournament's Top Batter market and Mooney is 7/2 to repeat her 2020 heroics.

Lanning is 9/2, McGrath 7/1 and Healy 10/1 to top the runscoring charts and the Aussie bowlers also look in ominous form coming into the World Cup.

They bowled out India, rated their main dangers at 4/1 in the outright betting, for just 85 in a warm-up game in Cape Town this week when fast bowler Darcie Brown, 19, took 4-17.

Australia captain Lanning did not even need to use pace ace Megan Schutt, who was the leading wicket-taker at the 2020 tournament and is 11/2 to be Top Bowler in this year's World Cup.

Group rivals India pose major threat to England

England witnessed Australia's Twenty20 quality at first hand in their most recent meeting in Adelaide last year when McGrath powered the hosts to a target of 170 for the loss of just one wicket with three overs to spare.

Heather Knight's England side are 9/2 to win the T20 World Cup for the first time since 2009 and their last appearance in the final came in 2018 when they lost by eight wickets against the dominant Aussies.

England's first objective is to qualify for the semi-finals from Group B, which features trophy contenders India, the West Indies, Pakistan and outsiders Ireland.

The Windies, champions in 2016, are 10/1 to upset England in their opening match on Saturday but they should face a tougher test against India, whose Under-19 team won their T20 World Cup in South Africa last month - beating England in the final.

Two members of the successful Under-19 squad, captain Shafali Verma and wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh, are also in the senior side.

Verma is 2/1 to be India's Top Team Batter with experienced opener Smriti Mandhana at 1/1 but there are concerns over the depth of their bowling, particularly in the pace department.

New Zealand should deny tournament hosts a semi-final spot

With Australia expected to top Group A, India and England will want to win their section to avoid a semi-final against the tournament favourites.

The betting suggests the final spot in the semis will either go to New Zealand or tournament hosts South Africa, who are 25/1 to lift the trophy in Cape Town on 26th February.

Those odds reflect the fact that South Africa are a team in transition, losing several stalwarts including regular captain Dane van Niekerk who was controversially left out after failing to meet the required fitness standards.

Group A rivals New Zealand have a more settled squad and they could be worth an each-way bet at 9/1 for punters looking to take on the Aussies.

Suzie Bates, the leading runscorer in the history of the Women's T20 World Cup, has been in fine form domestically and captain Sophie Devine, despite being troubled by a foot injury in the build-up to the tournament, is 4/1 to eclipse her Australian rivals in the tournament's Top Batter market.

New Zealand have won two of their last four T20 internationals against their illustrious neighbours, faring better than most other teams have done recently.

Australia have lost only one of their last 17 competitive T20 matches and that was in a Super Over following a tie with India so they should be confident of ruling the world once again.

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