Wait is over for the UAE women's cricket team
After months of training, the UAE women's cricket team will find out if their preparations have paid off when they compete in the Asian Cricket Council Women's Championship.
The UAE meet Hong Kong in Wednesday's opening match at the Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club grounds in Thailand.
Nepal, Bhutan and Malaysia, in that order, are the other matches for the UAE in Group A. Group B is made up of China, Thailand, Singapore, Kuwait, Iran, and Qatar.
The winner of this competition will earn a place in the ICC World Women's Twenty20 qualifier in Ireland in August.
The UAE go into the tournament without having played any competitive matches and that has been a trend since their first participation in the ACC tournament in July 2007.
Kalpana Venkatachar, the coach, acknowledged that the lack of games is a major hindrance but said the players have done all they can to remain as competitive as possible.
"We are in a tough pool and these teams train regularly unlike our girls who don't get to play matches on a regular basis," the former India international said.
"However, the girls are shaping well and are raring to go. Winning a couple of matches in this tournament will be a big plus for them.
"We have trained for nearly four to five hours every day in the past three weeks and we have tried to keep it different each day. The focus has been on every aspect of the cricketing drills to the fitness."
The team are led by the experienced Charvi Bhatt, a member of the UAE team since it was established in 2007.
Mohamed Hyder, the assistant coach, said preparations have gone according to plan and now it is up to the girls to execute their game plan.
"The first game is always important to gauge our level of play and for confidence-building," the former UAE player said.
"We are obviously looking for a good result against Hong Kong and that would set the tone for the remainder of the competition."
Mazhar Khan, the Emirates Cricket Board administrator, believes the sport is catching on among women despite the lack of a regular competition.
"Women's cricket in the UAE is new but we are encouraged by the progress it has made since our first participation in the ACC tournament," Mazhar said.
"To get an opportunity to play for the UAE women's team is in itself a great incentive. Those who made it to the team have been very enthusiastic and committed to the work."
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Updated: January 21, 2013 04:00 AM