LAHORE - The inaugural Malala U-21 National Women Cricket Championship 2014 will commence from December 4 to 18, 2014 here at the Lahore Country Club, Muridke. The event replaces the U-19 National Women Cricket Championship, which was successfully organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) women’s wing from 2009 to 2013.

The prime objective behind increasing the event’s age bracket – from U-19 to U-21 – is to give greater opportunity and exposure to the promising young talent so that it could hone its skill-set at a highly-competitive level prior to earning its spurs for national duty. The naming of the event after Malala Yousafzai is not only a tribute to the youngest Nobel laureate ever but also meant to inspire women cricketers to attain similar levels of excellence in their chosen domain.

The championship will consist of 12 regional teams and will be spread over two rounds – the qualification and the final. In the first, qualification round, six regional teams from the lower rung of the table shall fight it out between themselves over six encounters for the two slots up for grabs in the main, final round. With the top six remaining regional teams having already qualified for the final round, the two teams from the qualification round will boost the total number to eight.

With eight regional teams contesting for the honours, a total of 13 matches will be played in the final round. In the U-21 championship, relegation system has been introduced in order to improve the overall standard of women's cricket and give greater representation to the players.

There are two groups in qualification round. Group one consists of Quetta, Faisalabad and Hyderabad while group two comprises Abbottabad, Peshawar and Bahawalpur. On Dec 6, two matches will be played between Quetta and Faisalabad and Abbottabad and Peshawar. In the final round, there will be two groups as well. The group one will comprise Islamabad, Karachi, Sialkot and the team which will qualify from qualifying round. The group two will consist of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and the other team which will qualify from qualifying round. The final of the event will be played on December 17.