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May 11, 2007
Administrators around the world are waking up to a great way to push women's cricket - by having a Twenty20 match ahead of a men's.
Australia started the trend in January, with two state sides playing each other in Adelaide ahead of the corresponding men's sides. England have just announced their women will play an invitational side ahead of a men's domestic game.
But so far the men's matches have been domestic. Until now. They've gone one step further in India, with the announcement of a women's intercontinental match ahead of a men's intercontinental. Specifically, Asia and Africa will play each other in both women's and men's matches in Bangalore, India, on June 5.
This means that Asia, captained by India's Mithali Raj, and Africa, who have not yet announced their leader, will be the curtain raisers for globally renowned players such as Shahid Afridi, Munaf Patel, Loots Bosman and Pakistan's new captain Shoaib Malik.
It's a tremendous leap for womankind and comes under the fitting umbrella of the Cricket for Unity banner, uniting both continents and indeed both genders.
Raj leads a strong Asia side, including Jaya Sharma and Jhulan Goswami, with the majority of players from the Asia Cup finalists, India and Sri Lanka. There are two Pakistan representatives, Bismah Mahroof and their captain Urooj Mumtaz Khan.
Africa comprise players from five different countries - Tanzania and Uganda each have two players, while representation also comes from the more obvious South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The Tanzanian players are Saida Ramadhani and Mwanaiddi Ebrahim , while Uganda are represented by Franklin Najjumba and Christine Areymo.
The India players, in particular, have had experience playing in front of packed crowds, but this match is likely to be a sell-out - what better way to showcase their talents? Game on.
Asia Mithali Raj (India, capt), HASD Siriwardene (Sri Lanka, vice capt), Sulakshana Naik (India, wk), LDVV Silva (Sri Lanka), Jaya Sharma (India), PRCS Kumarihami (Sri Lanka), Bismah Mahroof (Pakistan), Jhulan Goswami (India), Rumeli Dhar (India), Priti Dimri (India), Urooj Mumtaz Khan (Pakistan).
12th man - LE Kaushalya (Sri Lanka)
Manager - Shamsha Hashmi (Pakistan)
Africa squad Margaret Banja (Kenya), Yvonne Mashedi (Kenya), Ashlyn Petro Carlyle Kilowan (South Africa), Cri-Zelda Brits (South Africa), Alicia Smith (South Africa), Saida Ramahdani (Tanzania), Mwanaiddi Ebrahim (Tanzania), Trisha Chetty (South Africa), Franklin Najjumba (Uganda), Christine Aryemo (Uganda), Julie Chibhabha (Zimbabwe), Thandolwenkosi Milo (Zimbabwe)