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Keeping it simple, China's captain makes history

Huang Zhou leads the batting charts - she has top scored for her team in all three games and soaked in the pressure admirably while rallying the team

Keeping it simple, China's captain makes history - Cricket News
On what the juniors in the team can take away from her success, Zhou said she wants them to learn how to deal with pressure and how to be in a team.
Anybody questioning China's sporting prowess, never as evident as in the century of medals the country picked up at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, could summarily be dismissed as a fool. On Tuesday (December 1), China announced its presence on the world stage of another sport, that most traditional, arguably most whimsical of team sports, cricket, when its women's team marked another milestone in its progress with a maiden win in the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.  

China Women defeated the Netherlands Women by five wickets, chasing down the stiff total of 101 for 6 with eight balls to spare, in their final Group B clash at the Asian Institute of Technology ground. 

Two days before in its previous game, it had given eventual group leader Ireland a scare by reducing it to 34 for 4 by the tenth over, before the European team came back strongly to win by 28 runs.  

Leading the charge has been the team's charismatic captain, Huang Zhou. 

Zhou, 30, has rallied her team behind her, admirably soaking in the pressure of playing at this level. After the 12 games of the group stage, she leads the batting charts with 103 runs. Coming in at No. 4, she has been her team's top scorer in all three games, remaining unbeaten on 24, 39 and 40. Against Ireland, she made 51% of the team's runs, while hitting one of only three sixes in the tournament so far. 

Her philosophy is remarkably simple: “Every match, we have to enjoy it. So today, we enjoyed.”

The approach is evident among the Chinese women. They are disciplined in training, but spirited on the field and enthusiastic in their encouragement from the sidelines. The team spirit is strong.

Lest anyone think Zhou has been a lone fighter for her team, Song, Zhao Ning and Yudian have made vital contributions with the bat, while Liu Jie has been most effective with the ball.  

“I want them to learn how to deal with pressure, how to be in a team,” says Zhou with her ready smile, of what the junior members in her team can take away from her recent success.

The chase against the Netherlands was a demonstration of that. With China reduced to 6 for 3 by the third over, Zhou gradually transferred the pressure onto the bowlers, taking quick singles and rotating the strike even as Fengfeng Song (21) and Chai Yudian (15 not out) grew in confidence and stuck around to offer vital support.  
“I just took 'one ball one run'. It's very simple,” she says of her approach. “Because if I think too much, maybe I cannot bat. But if I think 'one ball one run', it's fine.

“Everytime, [our coach] is talking [about] a very simple thing: He's just saying, 'one ball one run'. So after 20 overs, you have 120 runs. Which team can beat us then?”   

“I've been working in China for the last eight years and I've seen them growing. This is one of the milestones they've crossed, that they started believing in themselves, that they can beat better teams. This win will give them a boost and confidence for the future,” says Mohammad Aminul Islam, ICC Development Officer for Asia and Bangladesh's first Test centurion. 

Zhou herself, whom Aminul describes as “dedicated, polite and hard-working”, says she “met cricket” in 2006. “I think it is very fun. Because the game is like a big family. The players support each other. And we have a lot of fun.”

A PE teacher and cricket coach when she's not representing her country, she hopes to share her love for the game with the students. For now though, while China may not have qualified for the semi-finals to decide the two teams who will make it to the main event in India, there's still a lot to play for in the Shield semi-final.  

“In China there is no ground like this one (in Bangkok). So everytime we play, we cherish it. So we have to enjoy the game. If we lost the match, then we lost. But we have to push ourselves,” says Zhou.  

“If we can do our best, then results will come very soon. We have to do our best.”