Harmanpreet, Smriti differ from Mithali on IPL for women

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana made a big push for an IPL for women, saying that India has enough women players in numbers to form four or five teams.

IPL Trailblazers captain Smriti Mandhan with Beth Mooney, Suzie Bates and Danielle Hazell at the practice session at Brabourne Stadium on Monday.   -  Vivek Bendre

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana made a big push for an IPL for women, saying that India has enough women players in numbers to form four or five teams. Harmanpreet will lead the IPL Supernovas against the Smriti-led IPL Trailblazers in the Women’s T20 Challenge ahead of the IPL Qualifier 1 match at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. The two teams will have four foreign players each drawn from Australia, New Zealand and England and seven Indian players in the eleven.

READ: A new beginning for women's cricket in India

Harmanpreet and Smriti’s views differ from Mithali Raj, who made a categorical statement two months ago that India is not ready for an IPL for women. After Australia, led by Meg Lanning thrashed the India ‘A’ and the Indian team in limited over matches, Mithali had said: “I think it’s important to have a pool of quality players who will be qualified to play the IPL kind of league. India-A itself needs quality players. Once we have enough players, it would be wise enough to think about it. There is a big difference between an international player and a domestic player. Presently, it (league) may go against promoting women’s cricket.’’

But after a practice session at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday, Smriti, when told about Mithali’s observations, said: “Well, we cannot have eight teams right now, but yes, four or five teams. To start with it would be a good initiative because when the men’s IPL began (in 2008), only foreigners did well in the first two seasons. Later on, we started developing India’s bench strength. One never knows, the same can happen in women’s cricket. I think it’s easier to develop the bench strength through the IPL. India’s bench strength will be able to play with us and the foreigners and learn much more quickly.’’

Virtually echoing the sentiments expressed by Smriti, India’s Twenty20 captain, Harmanpreet said: “I do think we have enough players.  Twenty players have been active and representing India across the two formats.  There is also the `A’ team. Well, I think we have 30 to 35 girls. It has to be seen how we all respond tomorrow. If it turns out to be good, then the BCCI can think of starting an IPL for women from next year.’’

We want to entertain: Suzie Bates

New Zealand’s Suzie Bates, the third highest run getter in women’s T20 internationals (95 matches, 2452 runs) after England’s Charlotte Edwards (95 matches, 2605 runs) and West Indies’s  Stafanie Taylor (84,2582 runs) is all excited about the Women’s T20 Challenge here on Tuesday. Suzie will be turning out for the Trailblazers.

"There’s going to be lot of nerves. You are nervous before every game you go out to play. Tomorrow is going to be a completely different experience and different nerves. We really want to entertain and make it a good game. I am so grateful I have been invited. All the girls will get an opportunity to play tomorrow and it will showcase how far the women’s game and Twenty20 has come,’’ said Suzie.

Reflecting her thoughts on the Women’s T20 Challenge match, Smriti said: “I think it’s very exciting for all of us to be playing this exhibition match. It’s the stepping stone to women’s IPL. Hopefully we are able to put up a good show so that the BCCI can think of adding an IPL for women. When I went for the Big Bash in Australia the question everyone asked was”  

When will the women’s IPL start? ’’ I did not have an answer to that. But all of us are excited. This is sort of history for women’s cricket in India.’’