China’s women in India to prepare for Asiad

NEW DELHI: China’s cricket chiefs are so keen to make a mark in next year’s Asian Games at home in Guangzhou that they have sent the women’s team to train in India.

A 15-member squad is currently learning the nuances of a sport unfamiliar in their country in Mohali where they are being hosted by the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA). Team coach Mamatha Maben, a former India women’s international, said cricket was virtually unknown in China a decade ago and it was not easy to get girls to play the sport. “There are only a handful of women who play cricket in China and 15 of them are here,” Maben said.

In a Twenty20 tournament organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in Malaysia last year, the Chinese girls reached the semi-finals before losing to Thailand. Maben said the girls were being taught only Twenty20 cricket since that format will be played at the Asian Games where the sport is making its debut. China gained automatic qualification in both the men’s and women’s competition by virtue of being the hosts.

“A new stadium is coming up in Guangzhou,” said Maben, who took over as the national coach in March. While in India, the girls will get a taste of big-time cricket when they watch Australia take on India in an one-day international in Mohali on November 2.

The squad is in Mohali as guests of PCA chief Inderjit Singh Bindra, an adviser with the International Cricket Council who is charged with making cricket a global sport. The ICC sees China as the next big market and regularly sends coaches and officials there to popularise the sport. Former Pakistan international Rashid Khan coaches China’s men’s team. The Asian Games will be held in Guangzhou from November 12-27 next year.