In the end, the Hangzhou locals had a small dose of why we let this sport take up so much of our time and everyday thinking. On an overcast Thursday, the Indian women piled on the runs against Malaysia in the cricket quarterfinals, but unrelenting rain robbed the game of a finish. Despite the game being called off, India progressed to the semis by virtue of its higher seeding. A result that left many befuddled.
The official Asian Games post on X (formerly Twitter), “Team India won 173/2 – 1/0 against Team Malaysia,” added to the bemusement. While India’s participation did generate interest here at the picturesque Pingfeng Cricket Field Stadium, located inside the Zhejiang University campus, it was not the ideal endorsement to push for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic programme.
After an early drizzle in the morning, Malaysia won the toss and put India into bat against the backdrop of a long mountain range playing hide and seek because of the rain clouds always hovering around. The venue, which was once a sunflower field overlooking the University’s library, was re-laid, and reconstructed as a cricket field.
India’s stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana nearly pulled her first ball into the hands of the short mid-wicket’s hands. But thanks to some poor ground-fielding, catching and ordinary bowling, Mandhana and Shafali Verma got India off to a flier. Mandhana drove through the covers and swept at will to the midwicket before miscuing a pull off Mahirah Ismail to fall for a 16-ball 27 just before the first rain interruption.
The game was reduced to a 15-overs affair at the restart, and Shafali needed just a delivery before cutting loose on a full toss for her second six of the day. The opener’s strokeplay induced plenty of excitement among the locals in the stands and the volunteers in the area. The opener was gifted three full tosses on the pads and she duly put them away over the ropes.
“It was perfect,” said one native supporter, describing the ball sounding off Shafali’s blade while her friend added “It moved me”. The stop-start nature of the game didn’t bother another first-time watcher. “Once you know what the game is about then you respect the nature of the game,” he said.
A trio of Indian expats made their way from Keqiao and Yiwu to watch some cricket in their own backyard. Sanjay found it amusing that his enthusiasm for the boundaries was not shared by the Chinese. “They just keep waving their paper fans,” he chuckled. They have, so far, been unsuccessful in their attempts to book match tickets for the men’s team, who arrive later this month.
Shafali brought up her fifty in 31 balls with a six down the ground and muscled another one over the mid-wicket boundary. Shafali put on an 84-run stand with Jemimah Rodrigues for the second wicket, where the no. 3 batter scored swiftly using deft touch and using her feet to good effect. She also ran hard between the wickets to add 38 off 24 balls in the partnership.
Richa Ghosh took on the spinner Mas Elysa in the final over to take 19 runs with a couple of powerful hits over mid-wicket and covers. Jemimah finished on 48 and was left disappointed for failing to put away a half-tracker of the final delivery.
Pooja Vastrakar could only get in two deliveries in Malaysia’s chase before rain returned to drive the players off the field for the second and final time for the day. The umpires called the game off at 12.15 pm with India earning a passage into the semifinal, where it will take on Pakistan after its last four game against Indonesia was abandoned, too.
But the Chinese cricket fans – still trying hard to understand the complex nature of the playing conditions – left a happy bunch, unlike the diehard cricket aficionados during the mostly washed out Asia Cup. First-time visitors Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur, suspended for this game, were top of the list of the volunteers’ requests for post-game pictures and they duly obliged. While cricket is taking its nascent steps in China, Indian cricketers’ popularity transcended another boundary.
- Mumbai Indians: Full list of players retained, released and traded ahead of IPL 2024 auction
- Indian sports news wrap, November 26
- RCB full list of players retained, released and traded ahead of IPL 2024 auction
- India vs Australia Live Score, 2nd T20 Cricket Score Updates: IND to bat; AUS wins toss, opts to bowl first
- IPL auction 2024: Full list of squads, players after retention day