CHENNAI: Two weeks after finishing as runners-up in the T20 World Cup, India women find themselves in a tricky situation with regards to their next showpiece event. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the fixtures for the Women’s World Cup in 2021 with Australia, England and South Africa qualifying as the three of the top four teams, along with the hosts New Zealand (placed sixth) from the ICC Women’s Championship.
However, the ICC has yet not pronounced its judgement on an unplayed series between India and Pakistan, leaving Indian women’s hopes of direct qualification in tatters. The Women in Blue are fourth on the table with 20 points from 18 matches and Pakistan are fifth with 16.
Under the Championship, all eight teams face off each other in a three-match ODI series on a home or away basis. The top four qualify directly with hosts. The remaining three will progress to the ten-team World Cup Qualifier to be played in July this year.
As far as India are concerned, they were to host Pakistan for a three-match ODI series by the end of November 2019. However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) did not receive an invitation from the BCCI, with the matter referred to the ICC Technical Committee. The Indian board had stated that the requisite government permission was not received due to which they couldn’t organise the series. With the window for hosting the matches closed, it has to be seen what the ICC will decide with regards to the points.
When the ICC was contacted regarding the issue, the world body said, “When the decision will be taken, we will publish it through our channels.” It was learnt that the matter is likely to be discussed in the ICC meeting and that the BCCI will ask for the points to be shared.
The meeting, which will be held via teleconference in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, will be held at the end of this month.
If points are to be split, Mithali Raj & Co will qualify. If those six points are awarded to Pakistan, the Women in Blue have to play the qualifiers.
The same situation prevailed in the 2016 cycle when India did not play Pakistan. The Technical Committee had given six points to Pakistan stating that BCCI had not been able to establish “acceptable reasons” for non-participation. The recurrence of the India-Pakistan issue raises concern and splitting points might set a bad precedent.
It was not the only series that did not take place under the Championship. The seventh round of fixtures between South Africa and Australia did not go ahead this month. However, Australia, with an unassailable lead (they have 34 points from 18 matches), had already qualified in October last year.
With no decision taken on points for the cancelled series, South Africa, placed third with 22 points, qualified. Due to COVID-19, the series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka was also thrown into doubt. But even these matches had no impact on either of the teams with the White Ferns qualifying as hosts and Sri Lanka having no chance of advancing with just two points from 18 matches.