The eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League has reached a crucial stage, i.e. the playoffs, but there is a distinct buzz ahead of the Qualifier 1 on May 22. Ahead of SRH and CSK‘s clash at Wankhede, an exhibition clash called the Women’s T20 challenge takes place at the same venue which features two teams and some of the best women cricketers from around the world. Although it is technically an exhibition game, the consequences are going to be historic, for if the Women’s T20 challenge receives acceptance, it could result in the sprouting up of a full-fledged never-seen-before Women’s IPL tournament.
Women’s T20 challenge, historic moment for India women’s cricket: Smriti Mandhana
Given the present situation and the pandora’s box that is set to get unleashed after Tuesday’s Women’s T20 challenge at Wankhede, India women’s team cricketer Smriti Mandhana, who is the captain of one of the two teams in the Women’s T20 challenge, i.e. IPL Trailblazers, said that she was excited for the event, and hoped that it would lead to a women’s IPL. As reported by Cricbuzz, Smriti Mandhana said,
“It is very exciting for all of us to be playing this exhibition match and thankful to BCCI for organising such a unique match and it is a stepping show to the IPL. And hopefully, we will put up a good show and audience and BCCI people will think of having a (women’s) IPL.”
“This is the first ever match we will be playing with foreign players on Indian soil. Everyone is excited to part of this historical moment. We all are looking forward to put up a good show so that we can express ourselves in front of audience and BCCI that IPL will be good to watch also.”
Were waiting to play an IPL-like event since long: Harmanpreet Kaur
Mandhana’s counterpart in the Women’s T20 challenge, the captain of IPL Supernovas Harmanpreet Kaur spoke about the event and echoed Mandhana’s statements, when she said,
“We are very excited and were waiting since a long time when we could play an IPL like tournament. We are happy that we have got an opportunity tomorrow and hopefully we will get a good match tomorrow.”
The so-called ‘exhibition match’ being played between teams – IPL Trailblazers and IPL Supernovas – will be played at the Wankhede Stadium at 2 PM IST, ahead of the all-important IPL 2018 qualifier between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings. The historical significance of the Women’s T20 clash was even more pronounced when the women cricketers net sessions were marked by media’s presence and interviews.
Exhibition match could turn into a full-scale Women’s T20 tournament
What is being hoped for the most, is the probability that if the exhibition match witnesses a good showing of crowds in the stands, the concept could soon materialise into a proper Women’s IPL tournament soon. The men’s version – Indian Premier League – has certainly had a major impact on world cricket, and given that women’s T20 challenge receives acceptance, it could mean the world for women’s cricket, both, in India and as a whole globally. New Zealand women’s cricketer who is one of the 10 overseas players in the Women’s T20 challenge, Suzie Bates, spoke about what the event meant for women’s cricket in India, and said,
“I think this is going to be absolutely key if we want to see more female cricketers in India seeing it as a career and really training hard to make it to the big stage. In the WBBL, you always had the Australian players that were great players and worked hard. But now, younger players are able to make it to the Big Bash teams and be the best cricketers they can be. That just lifts the standards. So if that can happen in India, it would be massive for the women’s game.”
Can’t have eight teams in IPL for women for now: Smriti Mandhana
When Mandhana was asked if India has the necessary amount of women cricketers to be able to form a number of strong IPL teams, the 21 year old said,
“Well we cannot have eight teams, but we can have IPL of 4-5 teams (for women) to start with. Definitely not eight teams, not right now. Four to five teams, to start with it is a good initiative, because when men’s IPL started, first two seasons only foreigners scored and later on we started developing our bench strength.
“You never know, that can happen with women’s cricket. Through IPL it’s easier to develop the bench strength. The girls will be playing with all the foreign players along with us and they will learn much quicker.”
Watch: Smriti Mandhana’s interview on Breakfast with Champions