To test the practicality and feasibility of an IPL-like Women’s T20 league, the BCCI have decided to host an exhibition T20 cricket match ahead of the first IPL Qualifier on May 22, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. There will be two teams featuring in the women’s T20 exhibition match which will feature some of the star cricketers from India, Australia, New Zealand and England, and in a recent development, India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana have been named the captains of the two sides.
BCCI positive on kickstarting a Women’s T20 League
The BCCI has confirmed the participation of New Zealand women cricket team captain Suzie Bates and allrounder Sophie Devine, Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry, wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy, medium-pacer Megan Schutt and batsman Beth Mooney. England’s Danielle Wyatt, who slammed a fiery 124 against India in a record T20I chase in March, will also feature in the T20 exhibition match alongside her national team-mate Danielle Hazell, who earned her career-best ODI figures during the ODI series in Nagpur.
Speaking about the efforts by the BCCI to put in place a women’s T20 league, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla said, as reported by the BCCI,
“Even as IPL continues to roll like a well-oiled machine, over the last couple of weeks, efforts were made to put in place a similar structure for women cricketers. We were in talks with several Boards and I am pleased with the outcome.”
Mithali Raj apprehensive about the feasibility
Interestingly, however, India ODI captain Mithali Raj and pace spearhead and veteran Jhulan Goswami had turned down the idea and feasibility of a women’s T20 league in India, saying that there wasn’t a deep enough domestic talent pool. Mithali Raj had said in a meeting with BCCI in March,
“We need players [to] make up India A. Once we have those many players, then I think it would be wise for us to have an IPL.”
Diana Edulji says it’s high time Women’s IPL came and matched Men’s IPL
Diana Edulji, the former India captain and member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) that oversees the BCCI, said that the women’s T20 exhibition match would be a great opportunity for the Indian women cricketers to showcase their skills on a big platform. She said,
“BCCI has been pulling out all stops to promote and nurture women’s cricket and this is a small yet significant step towards a prospective league involving women’s stars in the future.”
“The IPL is the biggest and most popular league in the world and it has been a long-time endeavour to have a women’s league that can match the exuberance of IPL. Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy among others rubbing shoulders with foreign stars will be a unique experience and something that we have not witnessed here in India.”
The Women’s T20 Challenge also provides some of the high-profile Indian players, including Harmanpreet, Veda and Raj, a chance to get in good form ahead of the upcoming Asia Cup in June. The match will begin at 2pm IST, and will be telecast across the world, which sort of explains the weight that this test flight event holds in the life of BCCI.