Australia have retained the ICC Women’s Championship trophy by taking an unassailable lead in the points tally of the eight-team ODI competition played from 2017 to 2020. Australia women cricket team captain Meg Lanning was presented with the trophy following the conclusion of their T20I match against India in Melbourne on Saturday.

The top-four team of the competition will get a direct qualification for the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup next year apart from hosts New Zealand.

So far, Australia, South Africa and England have qualified for the world cup with one spot still up for grabs.

Lanning says the championship has given more context to the ODIs and that the world cup next year will be a tightly fought tournament. “It’s pleasing to have won the ICC Women’s Championship for the second time and of course, to have secured our spot at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021 in New Zealand next year. It’s going to be a tightly fought tournament and one we’re looking forward to,” Lanning said on Saturday.

She continued, “The Championship has been a great addition, giving more context to the ODIs we play and proving more opportunities for us to play against the other seven teams involved. With a T20 World Cup not far off it’s been really important playing against the likes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka who we haven’t played against a lot in the past. We’ve been able to learn more about them and the way they go about things which helps us prepare for major tournaments.”

While Australia are at the top of the table, England and South Africa are at the second and third spot respectively.

2017 World Cup runners-up India currently occupy the fourth position followed by Pakistan.