The first of the ACC's new streamlined events sees the top six women's teams in the region play in Chiang Mai for what is the start of another cycle of global women's competition. Thailand were the winners of last year's ACC Women's Championship and went on to play in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 Qualifiers, performing most creditably. "The opportunity is again open to all of these six countries now to keep improving by playing against their similarly talented peers, and keep climbing up the ladder," says ACC Events Manager Sultan Rana.
Thailand have the home advantage but "it's a very open competition," says Cricket Association of Thailand Chief Executive Mohideen Kader. "Nepal, Hong Kong, China are always strong and Iran and Bhutan can beat anyone on their day." Nepal in particular come to Chiang Mai on the back of a competitive domestic season where several batters have posted big scores. Notwithstanding the absence of stalwart Nary Thapa, in captain Rubina Chhetry they have an excellent opening bowler and are a team with plenty of experience at home and away.
Hong Kong have a squad of established names with some fresh faces and are always hard to beat. China, even though training has been held up because of the cold Manchurian plain weather and the just-completed Chinese New Year holidays, are a team who more than know how to play and will have the pent-up passion of athletes desperate for an opportunity to prove themselves. What teams like Hong Kong, Nepal and Thailand take for granted: fixtures, training, contact with varied teams - Bhutan's China's and Iran's players have no access to. China could indeed win it, their rivalry with Thailand over the years has been a formidable one, but so could any of the other five. They've all run each other close over the years.
The tournament starts tomorrow.
ACC Women's Premier
Filed February 10th, 2014