November 30, 2022

The Professional Times

Excellence in Every Word

The Women’s Asia Cup 2022: An Eventful Show

The Women’s Asia Cup concluded today, and what a tournament it was! There were a total of 7 teams participating and the Cup was hosted by Bangladesh. The tournament had many interesting twists and turns, some amazing displays of talent and overall, great games of cricket.

A thing to be noted was that all the match officials were female. It is a good step forward, especially with women umpires taking the field in recent times. 

A major positive from the tournament is the bowling performances of all the teams. Even UAE, Thailand and Malaysia performed well in this department. There were some low scores defended, first innings totals were restricted to a certain limit owing to some good bowling.

Sri Lanka was one team which was particularly impressive on the bowling front,  successfully defending low scores against Bangladesh and Pakistan. The spinners were the ones who did major damage in all teams, like – Putthawong of Thailand, Deepti Sharma of India, Inoka Ranaweera of Sri Lanka, Rumana Ahmed and Tuba Hassan from Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively. The top ten wicket-takers in the tournament are spinners, thereby proving the fact. 

However, there is one small side effect of such good bowling – batting performances haven’t been upto the mark for most teams and their good bowling just does the job of hiding them. The only exceptions to this were India and Pakistan, who had somewhat strong batting units.

They had  different batting and bowling heroes throughout the tournament. Smriti, Shafali, Jemimah and Deepti for India and Dar, Maroof, Muneeba Ali, Amin for Pakistan have put on a good show. Sri Lanka was a team whose batting even never really clicked, except in that one game against Malaysia.

Their captain, Chamari Athapatthu has been out of runs, and that has adversely affected their scores. Harshitha Madavi has been the standout batter for them, and Nilakshi, Oshadi, etc. have contributed little here and there, but overall it has been just pathetic batting displays.

In the final, Sri Lankan Women simply didn’t turn up, to be honest. Their batting problems were once again in the spotlight, only this time their bowling couldn’t save them. UAE and Thailand bowled well throughout the tournament, only to be all out or restricted to a paltry score. If the batting was perhaps a bit better, teams like UAE and Thailand could’ve put on a better show.

Speaking of Thailand, they’ve been such a spirited team. Yes, they’ve not batted too well, but they played with a lot of heart, enjoyed their cricket and as a result, qualified for the semis! This was because of the fact that Thailand had gotten more points than defending champions Bangladesh, as they had won 3 back-to-back games.

But Bangladesh had won only two, and could qualify only if they beat UAE. That game was washed out due to rain, and so the Thai girls got through to the semis. It’s a bit of luck and fortune, but the Thai team have shown a lot of spirit and that game against Pakistan was just amazing! So they deserved to be in the semis, I felt. It was a historic tournament for Thailand, beating Pakistan for the first time and qualifying for the semi-finals as well. 

Speaking of history, there was one historic India-Pakistan game, which was the only game that India lost. Pakistan beat India for just the 3rd time in T20Is, making it a memorable win for them. Nida Dar and Bismah Maroof were the stars of the batting and Dar chipped in with wickets as well.

She was adjudged player of the match for that game, quite deservingly. She was also the one who almost booked a place in the final for Pakistan. She’s had a great tournament, both with the ball and bat. 

Coming to the semi-finals, we had a one-sided affair when India faced Thailand, and an extremely thrilling match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Both these teams had played against each other in the last league game as well, which was just as interesting.

In both the games, Sri Lanka batted first, and couldn’t get going, but managed to post decent totals. They posted 112 and 121 respectively. In the league game, the match was all set to go down to the last ball, last over, when 12 were needed off 9.

But then, a wicket fell, and in came Ayesha Naseem. She struck two sixes and finished the game, with quite a bang! In the second game, where Sri Lanka got 121, they didn’t start off too we with the ball. But, as the game progressed, they got back into the game with some tight bowling and a wicket by Inoka Ranaweera in her first over.

From there, Sri Lanka built up pressure, but even then a few timely boundaries and sensible batting by Dar meant that the game was still in the balance. It all went down to the last ball of the game, with 3 required to win for Pakistan.

Nida Dar hit the ball, she couldn’t middle it, but she took off for the run.  But, she was run out after completing one run! Sri Lanka had sealed the game at the very last moment, it was a historic one for them, as they qualified for the finals after 14 years! Those two games were incredible; probably the best games of the tournament. So, I ask a question – is SL vs PAK the new rivalry in women’s cricket? It may very well be. 

That concludes the major highlights of this extremely entertaining tournament, and with the T20 World Cup just a few months away, it was a good preparation for the teams to work on their flaws and improve their strengths.

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