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China s women in India to prepare for Asian Games.

Byline: AFP

NEW DELHI: China s cricket chiefs are so keen to make a mark in next year s Asian Games at home in Guangzhou that they have sent the women s team to train in India.

A 15-member squad is currently learning the nuances of a sport unfamiliar in their country in the northern city of Mohali where they are being hosted by the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA).

Team coach Mamatha Maben, a former India women s international, said cricket was virtually unknown in China a decade ago and it was not easy to get girls to play the sport.

"There are only a handful of women who play cricket in China and 15 of them are here," Maben told local media. "They have the talent and the more exposure they get, the better they will become."

In a Twenty20 tournament organised by the Asian Cricket Council in Malaysia last year, the Chinese girls reached the semi-finals before losing to Thailand.

Maben said the girls were being taught only Twenty20 cricket since that format will be played at the Asian Games where the sport is making its debut. China gained automatic qualification in both the men s and womenEoe1/4aos competition by virtue of being the hosts.

"A brand new cricket stadium is coming up in Guangzhou," said Maben, who took over as the national coach in March.

While in India, the girls will get a taste of big-time cricket when they watch Ricky Ponting s world champions Australia take on India in a men s one-day international in Mohali on November 2.

The squad are in Mohali as guests of PCA chief Inderjit Singh Bindra, an adviser with the International Cricket Council who is charged with making cricket a global sport.

The ICC sees China as the next big market for cricket and regularly sends coaches and officials there to popularise the sport. Former Pakistan international Rashid Khan coaches China s menEoe1/4aos team. The Asian Games will be held in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou from November 12-27 next year.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Oct 22, 2009
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