The Indian Women’s cricket team continued their dominance of the ACC Women’s Asia Cup that stretches back to 2004 by winning the competition for the sixth successive time without ever losing a match. They defeated Pakistan by 17 runs in the final played at Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok as both sides contributed to an exciting final that showed off high class cricket in Thailand to an audience around the world as the match was televised live by Star Sports.
One player was head and shoulders above all others in this competition so it was no surprise she was also the star of the day as India’s Mithali Raj scored an unbeaten 73, her tenth fifty in Twenty20 Internationals and the highest score of her T20 career. India scored 121 for 5 in 20 overs but Pakistan were confident of chasing a stiff target as they had won four matches batting second in this tournament. Pakistan looked to be on course to end India’s run of success as they reached 56 for 2 in the tenth over with Javeria and Bismah batting well but the Indian spinners tightened their hold on the match as Ekta Bisht took her tally of wickets to ten with her impressive slow left-arm. Pakistan finished on 104 for 6 to lose in the final for the second time.
India claimed their sixth victory in the ACC Women’s Asia Cup by the margin of 17 runs and the ageless Mithali Raj was named player of the match and player of the tournament as she scored 220 runs at an average of 110. Mithali received a cheque for 500 dolllars as ACC introduted prize money at this level for the first time. The tournament was a great success for Asian Cricket Council and Cricket Association of Thailand as the team of umpires, scorers and other officials proved that Thailand could host an international cricket tournament of this stature.
Thailand’s team watched on and they will have learnt a lot about two teams who they will compete against in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka in February and young leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi held her own by taking eight wickets to finish as third leading wicket-taker in the competition. Standards are improving as are opportunities for women cricketers at the top level in Asia but India are still clearly the dominant force
Six countries had taken part in the tournament as India won five out five, Pakistan four out of five, Sri Lanka three out of five and Bangladesh two out of five. Thailand finished fifth as they enjoyed their solitary victory over Nepal who came sixth.
Certainly an enjoyable nine days of cricket as the tournament was held solely at the Asian Institute of Technology as TCG was initially waterlogged and the teams then wanted to play at a single venue. The television coverage of the final went smoothly as Star Sports broadcast live cricket from Thailand for the first time as its new television deal to cover the Asia Cup includes a commitment to show women’s cricket.