It has just been a matter of four or five years of wait for the start of the Women's Indian Premier League. But, the two teams that are facing each other in the second game of the WPL, have had a legacy of disappointment for 15 years. If you know, you know!
Since the inception of IPL in 2008, only three Men’s teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings (Kings XI Punjab), do not have a title to their name, after playing across five-plus seasons. Punjab do not have a team in this edition. As for Bangalore and Delhi, can the Women’s team achieve what the Men’s haven’t? To be precise, both teams have the perfect armory to achieve it.
Under the leadership of Smriti Mandhana, Bangalore will lock horns with Delhi, who is led by the five-time ICC trophy title winning captain Meg Lanning. Between the two, there is a huge gulf of difference in terms of captaincy experience. Lanning has skippered in 100 W-T20Is as compared to 11 by Smriti.
There is leadership experience of Lanning, power-hitting in the form of Shafali Verma, consistency in the name of Jemimah Rodrigues, all-round abilities of Marizanne Kapp, and what not for Delhi. The biggest question is, can Lanning’s expertise drive Delhi to an IPL title?
Albeit, their first challenge itself won’t be easy. A tad to their advantage, the Bangalore team have better balance than Delhi. They have a powerhouse in their batting line-up, in the form of Smriti, Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine, Richa Ghosh, and Heather Knight. In the bowling department, they have Renuka Singh and the experienced Megan Schutt.
With such an exuberant team, Bangalore Women can definitely win the title before their Men counterpart. Unless, they don’t suffer a confidence denting opening match like the Men did back in 2008.
Things to watch out for
Abundance of Experience in both teams
It is just not about the fame of these players. In both the teams, there is a plethora of international experience.
There are eight players in Bangalore who have played 30+ W-T20Is, and six of them have an experience of playing 80+ matches. On the other side, Delhi have nine players who have played 50+ matches. In total, Delhi have an aggregate of 764 W-T20I match experience and Bangalore has 731. These are the most for any team.
In any case, Bangalore are wealthier than Delhi, when it comes to the amount of runs scored and wickets taken. There are five batters who have scored in excess of 1500 runs in W-T20Is, and four bowlers with 50+ wickets. Out of which, three have 100+ wickets. Bangalore batters in aggregate have 11394 runs and 478 wickets. In comparison, Delhi batters have scored 8913 runs, and 409 wickets.
Experience vs youthful intent, the battle of powerplay batters
One thing is for sure, from both teams, there isn't a shortage of entertainment in the first six-over phase while batting. But, who will be the bigger entertainers, the experienced Smriti and Devine or the buoyant youths, Shafali and Alice Capsey?
All four have been exceptional in the powerplay in W-T20Is since 2022. Capsey among the lot has been the most explosive one. In 12 innings, she has scored 168 runs at a strike rate of 140. Next in line is Shafali with 425 runs at a strike rate of 124.3.
Smriti in her 30 innings, has scored 475 runs at a strike rate of 122.7. Devine doesn’t have high strike rates as the other three, but she averages 41.2 with a strike rate of 111.6.
Bangalore’s bowling powerplay prowess
In most of the aspects, Delhi is on equal terms with Bangalore. However, there is one area in which these two teams have had contrasting records.
In the current bowling set-up of Bangalore, they have Renuka and Schutt, who have been excellent in the first six overs phase. In W-T20Is since 2022, Renuka has bagged 19 wickets and Schutt has 11, and both have conceded less than 5.5 runs per over. Adding to that, Perry with five wickets and Devine with two, have an economy of 5.6 and 5.7.
Overall, the current squad Bangalore bowlers, have scalped 37 wickets at an economy of 5.4, and a bowling strike rate of 19.6. Whereas, no Delhi bowler has more than five wickets in this phase. Adding to their woes, only two bowlers have an economy of less than six. Their aggregate comes up to seven wickets at an economy of 6.4 and strike rate of 36.9.
Pitch and conditions
The entire WPL is being played across two venues, and both of those have been graveyards for bowlers. However, the sample size has been bigger at Brabourne. In 10 W-T20Is, batting teams have scored at a run rate of 8.3. Among venues across the world where five-plus matches have been witnessed, Brabourne is the only venue where the run rate is over 7.5.
While batting first, out of the 10 innings, only thrice has there been a total of less than 150. On an average 165 runs have been scored in the first innings.
Nothing much separates the pacers and spinners, both have been taken to the cleaners. In terms of wickets percentage, pacers (55.8%) have the edge over spinners (44.2%). The pacers have bagged a wicket every 19.7 balls as compared to 24.4 balls by spinners. But, spinners (7.9) have been slightly better than pacers (8.5) in the economy section.
-Shafali’s weakness hasn’t been the short ball in recent times. Her kryptonite has been spinners. In W-T20Is since 2022, Shafali has scored 288 runs at a strike rate of 133.7 and an average of 42.8. She has only nine dismissals in 24 innings against the pacers. However, against spinners, in 26 innings, she has 17 dismissals and averages 14.8. She averages 8.1 against leg spinners (5 outs) and 14.3 against off-spinners (9 outs). Among batters who have faced 150+ balls against spinners in this time, her average is the worst.
-Against Smriti, bowling short is not an option for the pacers. In W-T20Is since 2022, Smriti has scored runs at a strike rate of 200 against pacers when bowled on back of length area. In 27 balls, she hasn’t been dismissed. On no other length, she has a strike rate above 135. This is one of the reasons why she has a tremendous record while playing the pull shot. She has 141 runs through this shot at a strike rate of 243.1 and one dismissal.
Perry, Devine and Schutt are three overseas players who will certainly start for Bangalore. But, it will be interesting to see who the fourth one is. They have Heather Knight, a top batter and Dane van Niekerk, the leg-spinning all-rounder.
Probable XI: Smriti Mandhana (c), Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Disha Kasat, Heather Knight/ Dane van Niekerk, Richa Ghosh (wk), Renuka Singh, Asha Shobana, Komal Zanzad, Megan Schutt, Sahana Pawar
Delhi are the only team who have bagged an associate player in their squad. However, Tara Norris is unlikely to play. The young Under-19 star, Titas Sadhu, might be given the nod.
Probable XI: Alice Capsey, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Meg Lanning, Taniyaa Bhatia (wk), Marizanne Kapp, Jess Jonassen, Shikha Pandey, Titas Sadhu, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav