India Under-21 women's tour of Pakistan September 27, 2005

Indian women promise friendly cricket series


Karuna Jain is welcomed to Pakistan, looking forward to a friendly series © AFP
Karuna Jain, captain of India's Under-21 women's cricket team, said that their first-ever cricket series with Pakistan will be a friendly encounter, unlike the bitter contests between their male colleagues.

Jain told AFP, "I don't think there will be as intense a rivalry as the men's teams show. We are here for a friendly competition." The 14-member Indian team arrived for their landmark tour in Lahore late Monday, accompanied by Kalpana Venkatashar, the coach, and manager Anjali Pendharkar.

Jain, who featured in India's runners-up finish to Australia in the World Cup early this year, said, "This is the most exciting tour for all the players, none of whom have ever toured Pakistan before. The warmth we received at the airport made us feel at home."

Lahore will be the venue of their first one-day match to be played on Wednesday. Three other matches on September 29, October 1 and 2 are also scheduled in the city.

Jain said the series would not be one-sided in India's favour. Pakistan, led by Shamsa Hashmi, failed to qualify for the World Cup. Hashmi said, "Pakistan is different territory and this Indian team is also very inexperienced."

Venkatashar said since it was the first-ever tour by any Indian women team, "it makes the occasion very, very special."

Cricket has always been the most popular sport across the subcontinent but women's cricket in Muslim Pakistan flourished only in the early 1990s, along with other sports. Conservative attitudes here still mean female players cannot wear shorts and T-shirts or play in front of open crowds. Both India and Pakistan will wear their traditional blue and green colours respectively. However, Pakistani women will follow a strict Islamic dress code, wearing baggy trousers and long shirts.