We are about to witness history unfold in the land of the Proteas on January 14 as the inaugural edition of the Women's Under-19 World Cup is all set to kick off amid growing fanfare.
As a fan of women's sport and someone who has played a lot of Under-19 cricket while growing up, an age-group World Cup is precisely the kind of tournament that challenges young players to improve their game and inch a step closer to donning the national colours for the senior team.
While there have been talks surrounding the inception of the World Cup or bilateral series for half a decade, it is heartening to see the International Cricket Council and the boards across the nation work towards a collective goal of developing women's cricket.
And after years of hard work and gruelling hours, it ain't any surprise, to say the least, that there has been a lot of hype and excitement surrounding this mega-event from not only the organisers and the senior international cricketers but also fans across the globe.
The next fortnight will showcase not only the immense talent of these young teenagers but is also set to enthral the fans for the next two decades with their exuberant style of play and fearless attitude.
So, grab your coffee and a tub of popcorn as we are about to witness history unfold in South Africa with the young prodigies turning into superstars.
But before we talk about the tournament favourites and the players to watch out for, here's everything you need to know about the first-ever Women's Under-19 T20 World Cup.
How did the teams qualify for the mega event?
The inaugural edition of the extravaganza has 16 teams vying for the coveted trophy. According to the ICC rules, 11 Full-Member nations have gained automatic entry to the competition.
Along with the 11 formidable outfits, the remaining five spots in the table were completed by the winners of the regional Qualifiers held in June last year.
While 19 teams participated in the riveting tournament that commenced last year to stake a claim for themselves in the World Cup, it was the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Scotland, Indonesia and the United States of America who managed to get over the line and secure their place in the competition.
The format of the tournament
With the 16 teams locked in for the iconic event, they are divided into four groups of four teams each that will compete in a round-robin format before the Super Six stage.
While Australia are placed in Group A, India, along with the hosts, South Africa are in Group D. England are placed in Group B alongside Rwanda, who are competing in their maiden ICC World Cup at any level.
The top three teams from the groups will qualify for the Super Six stage of the complete in a league format. The three sides from Group A and D will comprise Group 1, and teams from Group B and D will form Group 2.
The top two sides from Groups 1 and 2 will lock horns in the semi-finals on January 27 at B Marks Oval in Potchefstroom before the summit clash on January 29 at the same venue.
Teams to watch out for
With Shafali Verma at the helm of affairs for the Indian side, there is bound to be plenty of buzz and excitement surrounding the Women in Blue. Alongside the dynamic opening batter, India have also included wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh to bolster their batting down the order and they will be one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
While the duo are expected to shoulder the responsibility of side with the bat, Mumbai-all-rounder Hurley Gala will be one of the players to watch out for in this high-voltage tournament. The right-arm pacer is fast and will get the swing in pace-friendly conditions in South Africa along with her lusty blows down the order.
In any world event, especially in women's cricket, it is no surprise that Australia will be one of the firm favourites to qualify for the finals. The young Aussie contingent will be led by Rhys McKenna and boast of seven to eight players with the Women's Big Bash League experience.
The spin bowling unit looks formidable, to say the least, as off-spinner Ella Hayward, who plays for Melbourne Renegades and Victoria in the WBBL and domestic league, will shoulder the responsibility of the side along with Amy Smith.
The leg spinner has been a regular in the playing XI for the Hobart Hurricanes and will be one of the key players of the side not only with her bowling abilities but also with her power-hitting skills down the order.
The trio have been a regular with the senior team in the last 12 months and will be the players to watch out for in the competition. The team will be captained by Izzy Sharp, who impressed with her leadership skills for Canterbury Under-19 and can use this opportunity to pave her way into the national side.
Over to Willowmoore Park!!