Australia hosts seventh-placed India in a three-match ODI series, starting in Canberra on 2 February, while an unbeaten fourth-placed South Africa hosts fifth-placed England in Benoni in first of the three ODIs on 7 February.
Australia, despite losing the Twenty20 International series 1-2, will start as favourite against India. It has won eight of the nine Championship matches to date, has the home advantage as well as an impressive 13-3 head-to-head record against Mitali Raj’s side.
India, meanwhile, has a chance to rise as high as fourth in the Championship table if it wins all three games. India is yet to win a series in the Championship to date, having lost to New Zealand and South Africa at home by an identical margin of 2-1, and to England 2-0.
It is Raj and her side’s first trip to Australia in seven years and the number-six ranked batter in the MRF Tyres ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batters believes her side can improve.
“India definitely is not in the position we would like to be in and it will be our earnest endeavor to get to being one of the top teams,” the top-order batter said.
She added: “We do have a lot of young talent and the experience in Jhulan and me to combine well and get to the top places where India should belong and that is our mission Down under. It will be a tough and a challenging series and we want to give it all and our efforts should and will improve the rankings”
The top four sides from the ICC Women’s Championship will gain automatic qualification for the event proper, which is to be staged in England from 4-27 August, while the bottom four sides will get a final chance of qualification through the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in 2017.
In the MRF ICC Women’s Player Rankings, Lanning leads the batting charts while Sarah Taylor has the chance to stake a sole claim of second position, which she currently shares with Suzie Bates of New Zealand. Fifth-ranked Edwards too has an opportunity to make her way up the rankings as she is just 22 points behind her teammate.
Apart from Raj, India’s Harmanpreet Kaur, who is her side’s leading run-scorer with 215 runs in eight matches is seventh.
Amongst the bowlers, India’s Jhulan Goswami leads the pack. She is 109 points ahead of her closest rival Anisa Mohammed of the West Indies and England’s Katherine Brunt, who share second position. The former India captain has taken 173 wickets to date and needs eight more wickets to move ahead of Australia’s Cathryn Fitzpatrick as the leading wicket-taker in women’s cricket.
Australia’s Ellyse Perry and Erin Osborne are in fifth and ninth places, respectively.
Keep an eye out for some major shifts in these rankings as the ICC Women’s Championship moves into top gear, come February.
India: Mithali Raj (c), Jhulan Goswamy (vc), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana ,Niranjana Nagarajan, Shikha Pandey, Kalpana R, Sneh Rana ,Poonam Raut, MD Thirushkamini, Sushma Verma, Poonam Yadav
Coach: Purnima Rau
Australia: Meg Lanning(c), Alex Blackwell, Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Sarah Coyte, Rene Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt Key
Coach: Matthew Mott
England: Charlotte Edwards (c), Katherine Brunt, Kathryn Cross Georgia Elwiss, Lydia Greenway, Rebecca Grundy, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight (vice-captain), Tammi Beaumont, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt
Coach: Mark Robinson
South Africa: tba
Forthcoming matches in ICC Women’s Championship:
Australia v India
2 Feb – 1st ODI, Canberra
5 Feb – 2nd ODI, Hobart
7 Feb – 3rd ODI, Hobart