M'sian women's team qualify for T20 Asia Cup despite loss to UAE

AS soon as Aisya Eleesa Firdauz bowled the last ball to Khushi Sharma, the curtains came down permanently on Kinrara Oval in a perfect send-off for a venue that holds fond memories to those who were fortunate to grace its well-manicured pitch.

The Malaysian women's cricket team had the honour of playing the last competitive match at the storied venue — a five-wicket defeat to the United Arab Emirates in the ACC Women's T20 Championship final.

A berth at the Twenty20 Asia Cup was a fitting reward before the Kinrara Oval is turned to dust while the Malaysian Cricket Association (MCA) set about finding a new home.

"We couldn't have asked for more than this, to play in the last international match at the international tournament here," said MCA president Iqbal Ali Kassim Ali of a place that had been their home since 2004 before moving temporarily to the Bayuemas Oval in Klang.

"It's a fitting farewell to a ground which we've done 18 years of justice to.

"We're in the final discussions to seal a move, hopefully by next week, to another ground on a temporary basis until we can find a permanent solution."

Iqbal hopes the success of the women's team raises awareness of cricket's ability to fly the Malaysian flag at the international level and attract more support.

"We hope to get support from government-linked companies because we have credibility and reputation in managing and building grounds," said Iqbal, with the UKM Oval in Bangi set to play a central role in hosting local and international events.

"So if someone could give us a place, we can show them in two years we can turn it into an international arena. We've done as much as we can. Now somebody has to step up. We need help to do a deal, just get us a ground, and we can talk terms."

On the women's team that is 33rd in the ICC T20I rankings, Iqbal said there are plans to expose them to more international cricket ahead of the Asia Cup this October, where the Test-playing nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and hosts Bangladesh await.

"More than half of the team is below 23 years, and it's a pleasure to think of what they can be some years from now," said Iqbal.

"We are talking about creating specific programmes to work on areas they are lacking in because we need to prepare them to be competitive at the Asia Cup, which is a totally different ball game."

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories