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History beckons women's sport as WPL set to shatter stereotypes

Last updated on 01 Mar 2023 | 10:17 AM
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History beckons women's sport as WPL set to shatter stereotypes

We take a look at how the five teams shape up for the much-awaited Women's Premier League

Five teams, one trophy and a chance to rewrite history. 

We are only THREE days away from the inaugural edition of the Women's Premier League, and needless to say, the Indian fans, especially in the city of Mumbai, are buzzing with excitement. 

After years of toiling hard under the grueling sun and the pressure of people across the globe for the inception of a tournament similar to the Indian Premier League for the women's contingent, the BCCI has finally managed to stage a league for women's players in the nation. 

A week after the exhilarating T20 World Cup in the land of the Proteas ensured millions of people were glued to their television sets, the top female cricketers across the globe are set to enthral the fans in a two-week competition. 

With stakes rocketing sky-high and a chance for the five teams to etch their name in the record books, it promises to be a blockbuster that is set to shatter numerous records and stereotypes in sport. 

And without further ado, fasten your seatbelt because the show is about to begin!!!

Mumbai Indians

The most successful franchise in the IPL, all eyes were on the Mumbai Indians ahead of the auction on February 13, and they did not disappoint either. 

After failing to acquire the services of Smriti Mandhana, Mumbai managed to pick India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur for 1.80 CR to become the face of the franchise in the women's sector. 

However, she was not the costliest player as the Mumbai-based franchise literally broke the bank for England vice-captain Natalie Sciver-Brunt for 3.20 CR, who is set to lend a lot of balance to the playing XI of this side. 

One of the smart strategies deployed by the Charlotte Edwards-led team management was having several all-rounders in the squad. With Hayley Matthews, Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, and Sciver-Brunt in the line-up, Mumbai will bank on their international experience to chip in with their all-around abilities on wickets conducive for strokeplay. 

The only concern for the team heading into the competition will be the lack of firepower in their opening combination of Yastika Bhatia and Dhara Gujjar. While the duo have scored 223 and 207 runs in the domestic circuit in the shortest format, it has come at a strike rate of 97.37 and 106.70, which can dent Mumbai's charge in the powerplay. 

Another significant area of concern for the side would be the consistency of the pace bowlers in the squad. In Isabelle Wong and Vastrakar, the team has two players who have the ability to bowl quick but need to get some consistency in their arsenal.

Predicted XI: Yastika Bhatia (wk), Dhara Gujjar, Amelia Kerr, Harmanpreet Kaur, Natalie Sciver-Brunt, Amanjot Kaur, Humairaa Kazi, Pooja Vastrakar, Chloe Tryon, Neelam Bist, Isabelle Wong.

Gujarat Giants 

The other team set to play the historic opening clash against the Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil on Saturday, 4th March, is Beth Mooney-led Gujarat Giants. 

The Adani group acquired the rights to own a team in the Women's Premier League with a 1289 CR bid and, to their credit have covered pretty much all the bases. 

They were the first team to appoint Mithali Raj as their mentor and have Rachael Haynes and Nooshin Al Khadeer in their coaching set-up. The Ahmedabad-based side have a formidable batting unit with Deandra Dottin, Mooney and Ash Gardner, along with Indian batters Harleen Deol and S Meghana

While the batting looks formidable and explosive on paper, the concern for the team will be the lack of experience in the bowling unit, especially in the pace bowling unit. 

With Hurley Gala and Monica Patel as the two pace bowling options, along with Mansi Joshi, the fast bowlers have very little exposure to playing high-pressure situations. 

While their spin bowling department looks a bit settled with Gardner and Sneh Rana, Gujarat might struggle in the league because of the lack of players who can bowl left-arm spin or leg spin. 

In Tanuja Kanwer and Harleen, they do have the option to take the ball away from the right-handed batter, but with a lack of experience on their part in bowling their quota of overs in competitive games, it might lead to their downfall in the tournament. 

Predicted XI: Sabbineni Meghana, Beth Mooney (Captain and wk), Annabel Sutherland, Deandra Dottin, Ashleigh Gardner, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana, Hurley Gala, Monica Patel, Tanuja Kanwer.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

The vice-captain of the Indian side, Smriti Mandhana, is at the helm of affairs for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first edition of the competition. 

While the southpaw shattered records to become the highest-bid player in the league, the Bangalore-based franchise were wise to make some quality picks in the first set with Ellyse Perry and Sophie Devine to form a solid core that can lead them to glory in the tournament. 

The team also roped in Richa Ghosh and Renuka Singh, two of India's standout performers in the recently concluded T20 World Cup. Alongside the duo, Megan Schutt and Dane van Niekerk will be the other two overseas players who are expected to be part of the playing XI. 

One of the positives for the Challengers is the number of leaders in the squad, as most of the overseas contingent, along with Mandhana, have led either their national side or franchise cricket. 

With a wealth of experience and the exuberance of youngsters in the side, the Women in Red will be the team to watch out for in the competition. 

Predicted XI: Smriti Mandhana (Captain), Sophie Devine, Dane van Niekerk, Ellyse Perry, Disha Kasat, Richa Ghosh (wk), Renuka Singh, Asha Shobana, Komal Zanzad, Megan Schutt, Sahana Pawar.

Delhi Capitals 

Delhi Capitals were the only team who did not pick any player in the first marquee set but soon made amends as they bought Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues and Meg Lanning in the space of 35 minutes. 

In the trio, the top order of the Delhi outfit not only looks settled but also will enthral the fans with their strokeplay. While Delhi have not announced their captain, they have the option of a five-time World Cup-winning skipper Lanning or India's Under-19 skipper Shafali in the ranks. 

While they will shoulder the bulk of the responsibility of the side in the batting unit, the bowling also looks settled with all-rounder Marizanne Kapp and Shikha Pandey in the squad. 

Along with them, Titas Sadhu, the star of the Indian team in the summit clash of the U-19 World Cup, will hold the key for Delhi early in the powerplay alongside the experienced spinners of Jess Jonassen and Poonam Yadav. 

The only concern for the Delhi side will be the lack of an explosive wicket-keeper as they have Taniyaa Bhatia in the ranks, who is known for her steady style of play rather than her boundary-hitting abilities. 

Predicted XI: Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Meg Lanning, Alice Capsey, Taniyaa Bhatia (wk), Marizanne Kapp, Jess Jonassen, Shikha Pandey, Titas Sadhu, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav.

UP Warriorz

The auction strategy of the Uttar Pradesh Warriorz was fairly simple: Stack up the side with plenty of all-around options, and they did that at steal prices.  

The Warriorz have the most well-rounded team on paper in this edition, with Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath and Sophie Ecclestone in the squad.

Alongside the trio, they have the Indian spin all-round options of Devika Vaidya and vice-captain Deepti Sharma in the squad. They will form the core group of the side, with Grace Harris and Kiran Navgire adding some firepower down the order with their explosive strokeplay. 

On paper, the UP side does not have any weakness as such, with most of their bases covered, and it will not be surprising if they enter the tournament as one of the favourites.

Predicted XI: Shweta Sherawat, Alyssa Healy (Captain and wk), Tahlia McGrath, Kiran Navgire, Devika Vaidya, Deepti Sharma, Grace Harris, Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Anjali Sarvani, Parshvi Chopra.

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