The overseas players dominated the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League with some high-intensity performances over the last fortnight.
From Meg Lanning earning the Orange Cup to Isabelle Wong becoming one of the most sought-after bowlers - the tournament certainly provided a perfect platform to women cricketers, across age groups, to showcase their talents.
The Indians, too, had their share of success. Harmanpreet Kaur, the Mumbai Indians captain, ended the tournament with 281 runs from 10 games and was placed at No.4 in the highest run-scorers’ list.
The other Indian who featured in the top-10 was the young Shafali Verma, who amassed 252 runs from nine outings. Yastika Bhatia, Harleen Deol and Kiran Navgire, too, showed glimpses of their brilliance but failed to be consistent, thus missing out on a top-10 berth.
But as the dust settles, Harmanpreet believes that this experience of playing alongside some of the legends of world cricket will help the Indian youngsters immensely, over the next few years.
“During our training sessions, all our overseas players spoke positively with the Indian youngsters. Matthews was outstanding. She spoke to each and every player and discussed a few things. For our domestic players, it has been a great learning experience. I am sure they have learned a lot and when we come back next year, they will perform even better,” Harmanpreet said after guiding Mumbai Indians to the maiden WPL title on Sunday.
Before the WPL got underway, only a few India internationals had the opportunity of featuring in the overseas leagues like the Women’s Big Bash League or The Hundred. But even though the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues or Deepti Sharma struggled to be consistent, some of the youngsters like Saika Ishaque, Shreyanka Patil and Hemalatha Dayalan made the most of the opportunity.
Playing a fearless brand of cricket, they did not leave an impression that they were playing at such a big stage for the first time.
Ishaque, the spinner from Bengal, featured in the top-five wicket-taker’s list with 15 scalps in 10 outings. In the beginning of the league, Ishaque set the tone for Mumbai Indians, finding breakthroughs at crucial junctures.
Even though the overseas players climbed up the tally as the tournament progressed, Ishaque’s performance caught a lot of attention.
Bengaluru’s Shreyanka was another bright spot in the tournament. Relying on her all-round performances, she claimed six wickets, while significantly contributing in lower-order batting for RCB. And, her vibrant show also caught the eye of India captain Harmanpreet.
With several ICC events lined up over the next couple of years, Harmanpreet believes that the performances in the WPL will help the youngsters evolve. “At this stage, there’s pressure.
How you keep yourself calm and perform - that’s the only thing that you need to learn. Otherwise, in terms of skills, there’s not much difference. Everybody is working so hard. They are working hard on the fitness front and the only area is perhaps the mental aspect,” Harmanpreet said.
“It’s about how strong you are on the field. That’s something you need to learn from international players. Amelie, Nat were outstanding and those are the things that a young player should learn from the overseas players. Whenever they get an opportunity, they learn it and I hope they only get better here on.”
And, even the players would hope so, too. A lot of youngsters - including Titas Sadhu or Jasia Akhtar - did not get an opportunity to feature in the final XI, but to quote Delhi Capitals coach Jonathan Bertie, Sadhu can emerge as one of the leading players over the next few years.
So, more than anything else, the WPL opener has proved that India’s got talent. Time to nurture them and make them ready for the next level!
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