The Pakistan women's cricket team has made waves by clinching the gold medal in the T20 cricket competition of the Asian Games but skipper Sana Mir is realistic enough to admit that the absence of India from the tournament was a big factor in Pakistan's achieving the feat.
"Obviously, not having the Indians was a big plus for us because we were the most experienced team in the competition in their absence," Mir said from Guangzhou on Friday after her team beat Bangladesh by ten wickets in the final.
"We have got opportunities to play plenty of international matches in the last two years and that has helped our players gain experience and exposure. With the Indians not in the competition we were always in with a best chance to win the gold medal," she added.
The Pakistan skipper said that the gold medal is a Eid present for the Pakistani people.
"A win is a win and it has made us all very confident and proud," she said. India didn't send its men's or women's cricket teams for the T20 competitions, leading to a lot of criticism from the organisers and the former players.
The women's cricket team's victory was also praised by President Asif Zardari, who is the chief patron of the cricket board. President Zardari described the gold-medal finish by the women's team on their first appearance in Asiad, in very difficult times for Pakistan, as a proud moment and a big achievement.
Pakistan team manager, Aisha Ashar also hoped that the Asian Games victory would give women's cricket a big boost in the country.
"Women's cricket has slowly been growing in Pakistan but we needed one big title victory to really get more girls to get involved in the sport and I think this Asian Games victory will be a big stepping stone for Pakistan women's cricket," she said.
The manager also pointed out that there has been a steady improvement and progress in the standards of women's cricket in Pakistan with some good young players coming up.
"It shows that with more patronage and support, Pakistan would be able to match the Indian team in the next few years." She gave the example of young Nida Rashid, who took four wickets and scored an unbeaten 51 in the one-sided final.