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December 22, 2005
Pakistan will host the first women's Asia Cup amid growing female interest in cricket, in Karachi at the end of the month.
"Pakistan has the honour of hosting the first Asia Cup from December 28 to January 4," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) women's section secretary Shamsa Hashmi told AFP.
Pakistani women cricketers follow a strict Islamic dress code, wearing baggy trousers and long shirts. "We don't allow male spectators, but families can come and watch the matches," said Shamsa, also the captain of the Pakistan team. "When we hosted India it was great to see families coming and encouraging us."
Pakistan's arch-rivals India along with Sri Lanka would play on a double league basis, but Bangladesh would not take part as it was still in the development phase of women's cricket, Shamsa explained.
India are the top Asian nation in women's cricket, having finished as runners-up to Australia in the women's World Cup held in South Africa early this year. Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh failed to qualify for the women's World Cup.
Cricket has been drawing a growing female fan base in India, while across the border the women's sport got a shot in the arm earlier this year when it was placed under the supervision of the PCB.
Pakistan hosted its inaugural national cricket championship for women in March and then invited the Indian Under-21 team for a first-ever women's cricket series between the rivals in October, an event which India won.
The conservative society does not encourage women to play on open fields, but President Pervez Musharraf's government has supported female sports, paving the way for the first women's football championship in September this year.
Dec 28: Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Dec29: India v Sri Lanka
Dec 30: India v Pakistan
Dec 31: Pakistan v Sri Lanka
Jan 1: India v Sri Lanka
Jan 2: India v Pakistan
Jan 4: Final
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