Topping the wish list for India’s women cricketers would be an Indian Premier League for them. It could be the biggest boost to the women’s cricket in India since Harmanpreet Kaur’s 171 not-out against Australia in the 2017 World Cup semifinal.
But is India quite ready for a league? Will it generate enough interest? Will it be financially viable? Will it attract corporate sponsorship and are there enough local talents to feed multiple teams? Some of those questions could be answered over the next one week. The Women’s T20 Challenge, which opens at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Monday, could be seen as a trial for the real thing.
FOLLOW LIVE:Velocity vs Trailblazers - LIVE
It isn’t the first time the BCCI is organising such an event, though. Last year, there was one match held at Mumbai during the IPL. But, it started at 2 pm — not the ideal time for a game in hot summer.
So, not many people turned up to watch the game even though it turned out to be an exciting contest, decided on the last ball. The timing was hardly perfect for television either.
More suitable timings
The BCCI has got it right this time around, though. Except for one match, which begins at 3.30 pm, all matches will begin at 7.30 pm.
And there are more teams, and therefore, more matches, too. The pool of foreign players is larger as well despite the absence of the Australians who have had to miss a great opportunity because of an issue between the boards of the two countries over a men’s ODI series.
Among the big names from abroad are Danielle Wyatt (England), Amelia Kerr (New Zealand), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka) and Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh). They will join virtually the who-is-who of Indian women’s cricket — like Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet and Jhulan Goswami.
Mithali, Smrithi and Harmanpreet — who form the terrific trio of Indian batting — will lead the three teams: Velocity, Trailblazers and Supernovas. These women must be determined to prove that just like men in the IPL, they can entertain, too.
The past five weeks had seen full houses to watch most of Rajasthan Royals’ matches here. It will be interesting to see if the city responds to women’s cricket as enthusiastically as venues like Indore and Guwahati have in recent times. India’s cricket-playing women deserve all the support they can get. They have worked incredibly hard to reach where they are.
Entry is free for all the contests.
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