Pakistan celebrate their gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China

Cricket's back in China. And at the highest level too. The four Asian Test-playing nations, Bangladesh India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the best of the Asian non-Test countries, China, Hong Kong, Nepal and Thailand. When they were here last, in the absence of India, Pakistan beat Bangladesh to the gold medal at the Asian Games. This time it could be even more competitive. Everyone's developed and the non-Test playing nations have improved significantly.

Guanggong International Cricket Stadium in Guangzhou remains a picture, and much work has been done in the lead up to the event by the tireless Chinese Cricket Association officials to get the ground and facilities ready for the event. "When you have these kinds of expectations from the best teams China must be ready," says CCA External Affairs Director Zhang Tian. The Chinese team themselves are in a rebuilding phase but as with much else newly built in the huge metropolis of Guangzhou the foundations are strong.

Hong Kong are bringing a team for the future, packed with their own Chinese players and Nepal have all their stalwarts in place, Rubina Chhetri stepping up from the captaincy of the U-19s to lead the senior side. Thailand just may impress the most, however. "One cannot expect the junior teams to match the all-round abilities of the Test-playing nations just yet but in fielding and attitude, 'the way one looks as a team' I think the Chinese and Thais will impress", says the ACC's Aminul Islam who is serving as a Match Referee here.

Aminul Islam's rating this event as just below the Women's World Cup in terms of profile. There have been four 50-over Women's Asia Cups up to now, India dominating all of them. This however, is the first ever Twenty20 Women's Asia Cup, the ACC feeling it our duty to grow and develop the game as much as possible, thanks to the funds generated by the men's Asia Cup. India may well triumph again, but its going to be close. Two tied finals and two more decided off the last ball this year already in ACC cricket (ACC Trophy Elite, ACC U-19 Asia Cup, ACC U-16 Elite, Micromax Asia Cup), its been a great year for cricket competition across Asia.

ACC Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup

Filed October 24th, 2012