Mongolia’s Asian Games 2023: Cricket’s Learning Curve

A Humbling Start

Mongolia’s women’s cricket team faced a challenging debut at the 2023 Asian Games, ending their first international match with a record defeat. The team was bowled out for a mere 15 runs by Indonesia, who set a formidable score of 187-4 in the T20 preliminary-round match. This 172-run defeat was a stark introduction to international cricket for the Mongolian team.

Historical Context

To put the defeat in perspective, the previous record for the largest margin of defeat at the Asian Games was a 67-run loss suffered by Hong Kong, China against Sri Lanka in 2014. Mongolia’s loss by 172 runs has now overshadowed that record.

The Journey Ahead

Despite the initial setback, the future holds promise. Indonesia has already qualified for the next round and is among the four teams, including Thailand and Malaysia, that could potentially face India in the upcoming quarterfinals. Mongolia, on the other hand, will have another opportunity to prove themselves in an elimination match against Hong Kong.

Behind the Scenes

Mongolia’s entry into the international cricket arena is noteworthy. The team is coached by a Sri Lankan volunteer, a former 1990s Malaysian captain. They have a young 12-player squad. Their first turf pitch training was a day before the match. Their equipment, including four bats, was donated by the French Ambassador to Ulaanbaatar just ten days before.

Coach’s Perspective

David Talalla, the team’s coach, expressed pride in his players despite the outcome. Emphasizing the team’s inexperience, with many players having played cricket for less than two years, he highlighted the challenges they faced. The emotional toll of the match was evident, with many players in tears post-game. However, Talalla remains optimistic about the team’s potential growth and the future of cricket in Mongolia.

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