By R Kaushik in Colombo
ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 to see long-time rivals face-off in Galle
Interestingly enough, India and Pakistan will also lock horns in a Group A clash at the Women’s World Twenty20 in Galle on October 1. India, Pakistan, Australia and England make up Group A of the women’s competition, and while Australia and England will be favoured to win through to the semi-finals, most eyes in the subcontinent will be trained on the India-Pakistan contest.
“I don’t think too many people around the world get to watch an India-Pakistan women’s game live on television, so they don’t see the intensity,” said Mithali Raj, the Indian captain, on Tuesday afternoon. “It may not seem as intense as the men’s event, but still it is a sport and so we will play with the same kind of intensity that we show against England and Australia.”
But Raj was quick to defuse the pressure of expectation from the contest, saying, “Frankly, I am not looking at one particular match as I am looking forward to the World Cup.”
There was no mistaking the excitement of Sana Mir, the Pakistani captain. “We are really looking forward to the match,” said Mir. “It is great to play India because the intensity and excitement are much higher. We have played India before and we have realised that it is as keenly fought a game as the match between our men’s teams. The October 1 clash will also be played with great zest.”
Pakistan’s gold medal triumph at the Asian Games in China two years back has been well received by the Pakistan Cricket Board. “After we won the Asian Games Gold medal, the PCB gave us contracts,” said Mir. “Today, women’s cricket is being played on professional lines. We have 17 contracted players who are playing for the Pakistan senior team, our ‘A’ team and the Under-19 team.”
India’s women, meanwhile, aren’t contracted to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but Raj is happy with the parent body’s support. “We are looked after very well and even given access to all the stadiums and facilities in India,” said Raj, a double centurion in Test cricket. “We are also getting to play top teams regularly and we are gaining a lot of exposure.”
The Women’s World Twenty20 kicks off on Wednesday with Sri Lanka, the host nation, taking on South Africa in the opening contest. Pakistan Women plays England Women on Thursday morning, while Indian Women opens their campaign against Australia that same afternoon.
The 12 preliminary matches will be staged at the Galle International Stadium before the tournament moves to the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo for the knockout fixtures. The semi-finals will be played on October 4 and 5, just before the men’s semi-final matches on the same days. The final is scheduled for October 7, when the men’s final too will be held.