Dubai: Will the women’s IPL eventually become a reality? Sourav Ganguly, the President of Indian cricket board, is a known backer for such an event - even at a smaller scale - though one of the leading lights of the game feels the BCCI should not ‘‘wait forever’’ to host it.
“I personally feel they should start a women’s IPL by next year (2021), even if it’s on a slightly smaller scale and with some changes in rules, such as, say, have five to six foreign players in the first edition instead of four as is the case with the men’s IPL,” Mithali Raj, a much decorated player and captain of India’s 50-overs team, said in an in interview earlier this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic was yet to hit home in India - which at one stage rendered even the IPL uncertain - leave alone hosting the third edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge on schedule. However, the BCCI deserves a big round of applause for conducting the event smoothly so far, with the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Supernovas taking on Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers in the final at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.
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The odds were certainly stacked against the event, with the logistics of handling the quarantine period of three women’s teams - first in Mumbai and then in Dubai, the absence of a title-sponsor till Jio stepped in as the last moment and other hurdles in the times of pandemic not making the task any easier. This apart, no player from Australian team, the World T20 champions could be part of it as the proposed dates of the event clashed with the ongoing Women’s Big Bash League Down Under.
However, the intensity of the competition - as witnessed in the three matches so far - showed that the women were ready to take this competition to the next level. There were decent batting performances, with Sri Lankan Chamari Atapattu standing out with a 48-ball 67 for defending champions Supernovas against Trailblazers in the last of the round robin league games on Saturday to score first half-century of the tournament. The efforts put in at fielding - often a source of derision in the past - were also a revelation.
It’s a pity that Mithali, the highest rungetter among women in One-day Internationals, will not be in action as her team Velocity failed to qualify for the final. Jhulan Goswami, the other larger-than-life character in Indian women’s cricket and highest wicket-taker in the ODIs, will nevertheless be turning out for Trazilblazers.
There is a great depth of field among the finalists with the likes of Kaur and Mandhana, two of the hotshot names in the modern game, England’s Sophie Ecclestone, a left-arm spinner and world No.1 T20 bowler who will turn out for Trailblazers.
Supernovas, champions for last two years, are armed with the services of India’s star leg-spinner Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav, who will also be brimming with confidence after bowling a stellar last over on Saturday to help her side reach the title-clash.
It’s time, now, to raise the bar for this tournament - which is brimming with enough cricketing and marketing potential.