Ellyse Perry (Australia)
A great of the game, the former England captain Charlotte Edwards, believes Perry is "the greatest female player we're ever going to see". The assessment may put into perspective just how enormous the buzz might be around the leading women's allrounder in a home World Cup, and how immense the pressure is for her to take Australia to the March 8 final at the MCG.
A two-time ICC Cricketer of the Year and the 2019 Belinda Clark Medallist, the awards and accolades consolidate Perry's ever-growing stature as a generational star as much as her incisive swing bowling at north of 115kph and the ability to wed power and technique with consistency in a line-up that boasts genuine depth down to No. 10.
Besides, there's the insatiable appetite for excellence: on some days, a one-legged Perry is all it takes to win a World Cup; on others, record figures of 7 for 22 show her at the peak of her powers. A key contributor in Australia's tri-series title win last week at home, much of how Perry performs in the league stage may determine if the MCG will see two Perrys in action in the final, or if the record attendance the ICC has set out to attract will be a reality.
Harmanpreet Kaur (India)
What could dampen hosts Australia's spirits in the tournament opener? What should New Zealand be wary of going into their face-off against India? The short answer is: (A) Harmanpreet (En)Kaur.
Harmanpreet's unbeaten 171 knocked Australia out at the 2017 ODI World Cup and, within the first 90 minutes of the 2018 T20 World Cup, New Zealand were on course for a league-stage exit, thanks to Harmanpreet's maiden T20I ton. A third straight Harmanpreet blockbuster in as many world tournaments, against Australia or New Zealand in Group A, could decidedly ease India's entry into the semi-finals for the second time in a row.
India's most-capped T20I player, and their first line of defence for their uncertain middle order, Harmanpreet heads into the T20 World Cup with scores of 12, 20*, 14, 28, 42* in the tri-series. A veteran of three WBBL seasons, her two unbeaten knocks at No. 4 were pivotal to India's two wins in the tri-series en route to their runners-up finish. And it is this finisher's role that the India captain will need to play to perfection at this World Cup, where a string of brisk 30-plus unbeaten knocks from Harmanpreet might be enough for India to go the distance.
Sophie Devine (New Zealand)
The New Zealand allrounder's chart-topping 769-run tally and 19 wickets underpinned first-time finalists Adelaide Striker's runners-up finish at the 2019-20 WBBL. Named Player of the Tournament and then captain of New Zealand in the absence of Amy Satterthwaite, Devine carried her rich vein of form into the Super Smash, the domestic T20 competition in New Zealand, where she averaged 52 in Wellington's title-winning campaign.
In the recently concluded home T20I series against South Africa, she smashed four 50-plus scores in the four games she played - the last one being a maiden T20I hundred - to become the first batter, male or female, to make five fifty-plus scores in a row in T20I cricket, having preceded that run with a 72 against India.
Trailing Perry and compatriot Suzie Bates at No. 2 on the ICC T20I allrounder and batting rankings respectively, Devine is one of only three players to achieve the career double of 2000 runs and 50 wickets in both women's T20Is and ODIs. Her imperious form augurs well for New Zealand, who could be unstoppable in Australian conditions, if opener Devine gets support from the rest of the line-up, especially #SmashSister Bates.
Heather Knight (England)
At the heart of England's recent world tournament successes - the 2017 ODI World Cup win at home and the runners-up finish to Australia in the T20 World Cup the following year - has been the astute leader, key spin-bowling option, and middle-order lynchpin that is Heather Knight.
In what's set to be her third World Cup - across formats - as captain, and first one under new head coach Lisa Keightley, Knight remains key to England's chances of making the semi-finals from a group that also features 2016 world champions West Indies, the formidable South Africa, T20 World Cup debutants Thailand, and Bangladesh.
In the tri-series, Knight's rotation of her bowlers was arguably the best among the three captains. With the bat, her dominance of India's spinners and Australia's pace attack was equally emphatic; she bettered her career-best in T20Is twice in as many days, with 67 against India and then 78 against Australia.
Since the start of the 2019 Kia Super League, where she led Western Storm to their second title and finished with the third-most runs, Knight's appears to have found a new gear in her batting. England will also rely on her to tap into her WBBL experience, with Knight having topped the run-charts for the Hobart Hurricanes this season.
Marizanne Kapp (South Africa)
The leader of South Africa's highly regarded pace attack, Marizanne Kapp's stocks as a batter have been on the rise for a while now. She was the leading run-scorer for South Africa in the 2018 T20 World Cup and had an impressive WBBL where she struck two half-centuries for the Sydney Sixers, averaging over 33. Her ability to score at a brisk rate and innovate is at the heart of her knack for chipping in with momentum-changing cameos.
A sharp fielder, Kapp's athleticism stems from dabbling in multiple sports, having represented her province in netball, athletics, biathlon and lifesaving. She is the only South African with a T20I hat-trick, and her new-ball partnership with Shabnim Ismail makes the South African duo arguably the most feared pace-bowling combination in women's cricket.
The Sixers' leading wicket-taker 2019-20 season, Kapp specialises in applying the brakes and, save for this WBBL edition, has been the most economical bowler in all preceding four seasons of the tournament. At the World Cup, keep an eye out for the way Kapp sets up batters for the rest of the pace attack to snack on.