Top seeds Bangladesh look to be one of the strongest sides in the competition. They were hosts of the 2014 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 but lost their first three matches against West Indies, England and India, before finishing the competition on a high by defeating Sri Lanka by 3 runs and by beating Ireland by 17 runs to finish in ninth place. Bangladesh have prepared well for the Qualifiers by touring Pakistan even though they lost both T20 matches and playing two further matches as Zimbabwe visited Bangladesh on their way to Bangkok and the home side won both encounters.
Second seeds in the tournament, Ireland hosted the first edition of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifiers in 2013 and finished in third place behind Pakistan and Sri Lanka to qualify for the World T20 event held in Bangladesh. They lost all five of their matches but were never outclassed in conditions that may be similar to Bangkok. Ireland have been well tested against strong opposition as they faced Australia in the summer and showed they are still the best team in ICC Europe’s T20 competition in 2014 by winning all six matches.
Third seeded Netherlands just missed out on qualification for the last ICC Women’s World Twenty20 as they lost to Ireland by just two runs in the play-off to decide the third qualifying place. They will be looking to beat Ireland this time around and also have China and Zimbabwe in their group. Netherlands had a busy season in 2015 as they played in ECB’s women’s competition and a young side gained plenty of experience. The team may well have benefited from a week’s acclimatization in Sri Lanka where they played matches against Sri Lanka A and Panadura CC.
The hosts surprised many people by winning the Shield competition in Ireland in 2013 when they managed to beat Netherlands in the group stages and then overcame Canada and Zimbabwe in the Shield to win three out of their five matches in Ireland. Thailand qualified for this tournament by winning the ACC Women’s Premier as they won all five of their 40 over matches as they looked impressive over the longer format. Thailand lost to Pakistan in the quarter-finals of the Asian Games T20 competition held in South Korea and they have been preparing hard with tours to India and Sri Lanka.
Scotland missed out on qualification for the last ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier but they did win all four of the warm-up matches they contested in Ireland in 2013 where they beat Thailand and Canada twice apiece. Scotland’s match against Thailand could be one of the most interesting group matches with a place in the semi-finals possibly resting on it. It will be interesting to see if Scotland and the other European teams can adjust to conditions. Captain Aitken said, "There is no underestimating how different these conditions are, the ball gets to you slower when you are batting and fielding and the pitches really turn too!"
The Chinese Women’s team coached by Manjural Islam are regular visitors to Thailand and looked almost unbeatable in the short format here in the ACC women’s competition in 2013 before being surprised by the hosts in the final to miss out on qualification for the first ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in 2013.
China again came second to Thailand in the ACC 40-over event held in Chiang Mai in 2014, but they proved stronger than Hong Kong and Nepal to win a place in this competition and they could be a dangerous team as when they reached the semi-finals of the Asian Games in 2014.
Zimbabwe lost to Thailand in the final of the Shield competition in Ireland in 2013 but they had only been narrowly lost to Netherlands and beaten Thailand in the group stages with the big hitting of Precious Marange a feature of their batting. Zimbabwe qualified for this tournament by coming second in the ICC Africa Women’s Championship held in South Arica in 2014. The team lost to a South African Invitation XI but proved too strong for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Namibia and they have recently played matches in South Africa and against Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazaar.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Papua New Guinea may prove the surprise package in the tournament particularly if they can match the rapid development of their men’s team which has been rewarded with a place in the Inter-Continental Cup first-class competition and with prized ODI status. PNG men just missed out on qualification for the ICC World Twenty20 but the women remain on course after winning the ICC East Asia Pacific competition held in Japan last year. PNG had already beaten Samoa, Vanuatu and Cook Islands to reach the final where they contested a cricket classic against Japan who had played in Ireland in 2013.