The Women’s Asia Cup is being held for the seventh time as the leading teams in Asian women’s cricket are arriving in Malaysia to contest the ACC Women’s Asia Cup T20 with matches being played between 3 rd and 10 th June 2018. The first four editions of the Women’s Asia Cup were 50-over competitions and were all won by India with the tournaments being played in Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan between 2004 and 2008.
The Asian Cricket Council then made an important strategic decision to change the format of the Women’s Asia Cup to 20-over matches and opened the competition up to other countries with the aim of spreading the game of cricket across Asia. In 2012 the competition was held in Guangzhou, China and eight teams competed in the event with Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Nepal taking part for the first time. Teams were divided into two groups as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh contested the semi-finals with India beating Pakistan in the final.
It was Thailand’s turn to host the Women’s Asia Cup in 2016 with six teams playing in a single league structure, Thailand and Nepal having qualified to take part alongside India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was India who topped the league and they again beat Pakistan in the final which was televised live from the Asian Institute of Technology ground in Bangkok.
For 2018 the Women’s Asia Cup moves to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with the host country taking part for the first time. The format is the same as in the previous edition with six teams playing each other in a round robin league with the top two teams playing in the final on 10 th June.
The main question to be answered over the coming week is whether any other country can beat India in the Women’s Asia Cup. India are not just defending champions, they have won the competition six times out of six and have never
even lost a single match.
India are again the strongest country on paper as they reached the final of the 50-over World Cup last year before narrowly being beaten by England in a memorable final at Lord’s. Several of their top players have gained great exposure by playing in the Australian Women’s Big Bash and a women’s T20 match was recently played as part of the final stages of the Indian Premier League.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have both finished runners-up to India in earlier competitions and must surely have a chance of beating their great rivals in the most unpredictable form of cricket. Bangladesh will also be looking to gain victories of their higher rated neighbours, having just returned from a tough tour to South Africa.
It will also be important for Thailand, playing in the event for the third time, to show how close they can come in matching the most formidable women’s teams in Asia. Thailand are also taking part in the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier to be held in Netherlands in July and so would gain a great boost to their confidence if they could beat a major Asian country for the first time.
Hosts Malaysia are taking part in the ACC Women’s Asia Cup for the first time and so have a great opportunity to gain experience against the strongest sides in Asia just at the time when all the smaller countries in women’s cricket are being granted international T20 status for the first time.
There is plenty to look forward to for cricket fans in Kuala Lumpur as the league matches of the Women’s Asia Cup are being played at Kinrara Academy Oval and Royal Selangor Club from 3 rd to 9 th June with the final being held at Kinrara on Sunday 10 th June.
Can anybody beat India or will the unbeaten Indian side be able complete a magnificent seven Women’s Asia Cup titles?