Dubai [UAE], Oct. 30 : Sri Lanka's capital Colombo was today unveiled as the host of the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017, a 10-team event which will be staged from February 7 to 21, 2017.
The tournament will see the bottom four sides from the ICC Women's Championship along with Bangladesh, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Scotland and Zimbabwe go head to head for the four remaining spots in the ICC Women's World Cup in the United Kingdom from June 26 to July 23, 2017.
From the ICC Women's Championship, host Sri Lanka is certain to feature in the qualifier, while the remaining three sides will be confirmed following the final round of matches to be played in November.
World champion Australia has already won the ICC Women's Championship and with it became the first side to book a ticket for next year's ICC Women's World Cup, while England, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Pakistan are fighting for the remaining three automatic spots in the pinnacle women's 50-over event.
The 10 sides in Colombo will be divided into two groups of five with the top three from each progressing to the Super Six stage, thus securing One-Day International (ODI) status until the next ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier.
The top four sides from the Super Six stage will qualify for the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 as well as for the next ICC Women's Championship, while the top two sides will contest the final on February 21.
As many as 30 50-over matches will be played in the two-week tournament, which will provide another opportunity for the women's sides below the leading nations to gain vital experience and exposure as well as to hone their skills so that they are fully prepared and geared up for the ultimate event in women's cricket.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said the Colombo event will help the competing sides narrow the gap with the top women's sides.
"Thanks to the ICC Women's Championship, women's cricket has never been so strong and I am confident that next year's qualifying event will give further impetus to the women's game.
"With six teams currently battling for the three remaining automatic World Cup qualification spots through the Women's Championship, there are going to be some big names going into the qualifying event.
"This will create a highly competitive environment in Colombo and will also provide the emerging sides with an opportunity to continue to narrow the gap with the frontrunners and with a place at the World Cup at stake anything can happen which will make for an exciting tournament." Sri Lanka Cricket Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva said his board was keenly looking forward to staging another ICC event.
"Sri Lanka Cricket is delighted to be named as the host of another important ICC event. SLC has staged successful ICC events in the past and it will endeavour to live up to its reputation by putting up another memorable show.
"SLC has been focusing more on youth and women's cricket, and this ICC event will help it to further promote and develop the game in Sri Lanka.
We look forward to welcoming the visiting sides and hope the local support will further inspire our girls and help them to qualify for their sixth consecutive ICC Women's World Cup." Sri Lanka had finished fifth in the ICC Women's World Cup 2013, which was staged in India and won by Australia after defeating West Indies by 114 runs.
England had ended third, and was followed by New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and Pakistan.