The women’s World Cup opens in Mumbai today with the cricketers hoping to put aside memories of an unsettling build-up and gain recognition in a country where the men’s game reigns supreme.
Barely a week before the start, the International Cricket Council was forced to revise the schedule because of security concerns surrounding Pakistan’s participation in Mumbai where the entire tournament was to be played.
All group B matches, featuring Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, were shunted to Cuttack following threats from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party to disrupt matches in Mumbai.
Pakistan will remain in Cuttack if they qualify for the second round, but will still have to travel to Mumbai if they make the final on February 17.
Indian captain Mithali Raj said she was disappointed that the Pakistani team had attracted protests.
“I personally feel that politics should not be involved in sport,” Raj told AFP. “Sport is more about entertainment and a fun-loving atmosphere. So we should not be getting too many political issues into it.”
Three grounds in Mumbai will host group A, involving defending champions England, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and hosts India.
“The women’s game today is unrecognisable from when I started in 1997,” said England’s captain Charlotte Edwards, who is set to appear in her fifth World Cup. “We are attracting loads of young girls who want to play the game. We have changed people’s perceptions about women’s cricket a lot. Hopefully this tournament will be another step in hammering that message home.”
Meanwhile, Australia go into the tournament as favourites to win their sixth title, following victory in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October.
India women are all set to start their World Cup campaign when they take on the West Indies in a Group A match in Mumbai today. AFP
Pakistan women fall in final warm-up
Pakistan suffered a dip in batting as Orissa XI bounced back from a 95-run defeat to overcome Sana Mir’s side by four wickets in the second and final warm-up game in Cuttack.
The visitors were bowled out for just 154 in 46.1 overs as the batters failed to display resistance. With no half-centuries scored, Bismah Maroof (44) was the top scorer while Nain Abidi (29) and Sana (25) were the other main contributors.
The local team achieved the target with seven balls to spare following Swagatika Rath’s knock of 51 from 60 deliveries. Nidar Dar took two wickets, while Asmavia Iqbal and Sumaiya Siddiqi, claimed a wicket each.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.