Indian women to play ICC Championship opener against SA in Feb
New Delhi, Oct 9 (PTI) The second edition of the ICC Women's ODI World Championship will be held from 2017-2020, with India scheduled to play three matches in South Africa from February 5-10 in Round 1 of the competition.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) launched the Women's Championship here today in the presence of India captain Mithali Raj and former skipper Anjum Chopra.
India, who have not played since losing the World Cup final to hosts England in July, will play two games against South Africa in Kimberly on February 5 and 7 before travelling to Potchefstrom on February 10 for the final game as part of the Championship.
The Women's Championship will be played in the same format as the inaugural edition, which was held from 2014-16, with all the eight sides – Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies – taking on each other in series of three ODIs on a home or away basis.
World Cup 2021 hosts New Zealand and the three other top teams from the Championship will gain direct qualification for the showpiece event while the remaining four sides will get a second chance through the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier event in which they will be joined by six teams from four regions – Africa, Asia, East Asia Pacific and Europe.
The West Indies host Sri Lanka for the first series of the Championship, from October 11-15 while England and Australia play each other from October 22-29.
When the Indian women's team will be in South Africa for the Championship, the men's team will be in the middle of its full tour comprising three Tests, six ODIs and three T20 Internationals.
The women's team, which is itching to take the field since its remarkable effort in England, will end up playing at least 21 ODIs from 2018-2019.
With the World T20 slated to be held in the West Indies in November 2018, India veteran Mithali Raj said it would be a good idea to squeeze in at least a couple of T20s alongside the 50-over Women's Championship.
Comparing the current situation with the past, Raj said the Indian team looks set to play a sizeable number of international matches.
"To start off, I think 21 over two years is a good enough number. Before the ODI Championship, we would have played not more than 10-12 games in the same period. 21 is a good enough and I am sure it will only get better.
"Maybe if the boards (India and South Africa in this case) are interested, they can squeeze in a couple of T20s (with the ODI Championship)," said the 34-year-old.
The ICC too will welcome such a move by the two teams competing in the ODI Championship.
"Member boards will be encouraged to play T20Is during tours but no other ODIs can be scheduled along with Women's Championship series. Teams will get two points for each win, one point for a tie or no-result and no points for a loss," said the ICC in a statement.
It also remains to be seen whether India will be ready to play Pakistan as part of the Championship. India had forfeited their matches against Pakistan in the inaugural edition and ICC penalised them by docking all six points possible from the scheduled series.