The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup gets under way on Friday as reigning champions and tournament hosts Australia look to defend their crown. With 10 nations competing, we’re all set for a fascinating fortnight of cricket. Here’s our preview of the competition.

Australia hungry for more success

Australia will certainly be the team to beat in this competition. They come into this tournament as the reigning champions, the hosts and the most successful side in the history of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, with four world titles. Unsurprisingly, Meg Lanning’s side are the clear favourites to lift the trophy at the MCG in Melbourne on March 8 and are odds-on at 8/15 to do so.

Australia have reached the final in five of the six ICC Women’s T20 World Cups so far, and with home advantage this time, they will be expecting to repeat that trick. Sitting in Group A, they do face some stiff competition in India and New Zealand. However, they also face what should be more routine fixtures against Sri Lanka and qualifiers Bangladesh.

Australia open their campaign against India, who are third favourites to win the tournament at 5/1, with their last group game coming against New Zealand, who are fourth favourites to win the tournament at 12/1.

If India are able to play to the top of their game and pull off a win against Australia, then the wheels could come off for Lanning’s side, but with the best T20 bowler in the world in Megan Schutt among their ranks as well as the best all-rounder in Ellyse Perry, it’s hard to see past Australia making it to a sixth final.

England out for revenge over Australia

Over in Group B, it’s England that are the team to watch out for. Heather Knight’s side won the tournament in 2009 and have made three of the last four finals, only to go on to lose to rivals Australia on each occasion. With a side boasting the likes of Knight, Sophie Ecclestone and Natalie Sciver, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with in this tournament and should go far once again, while at 4/1 they are second favourites to win the competition.

Joining England in Group B are South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and tournament debutants Thailand. While West Indies are only 33/1 to win the tournament, they could be the nation England need to be most wary of, given they were crowned world champions just four years ago and can call upon some of the world’s best players such as Stafanie Taylor, Afy Fletcher and Hayley Matthews. England meet West Indies in Sydney on March 1.

Ultimately, it’s hard to look past anyone stopping Australia, but it’s England who offer the better value, so if you like a risk then back Knight and her team-mates to lift the trophy at 4/1.

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